New University of Washington research demonstrates that one suggested method, injecting sulfate particles into the stratosphere, would likely achieve only part of the desired effect, and could carry serious, if unintended, consequences.
The lower atmosphere already contains tiny sulfate and sea salt particles, called aerosols, that reflect energy from the sun into space. Some have suggested injecting sulfate particles directly into the stratosphere to enhance the effect, and also to reduce the rate of future warming that would result from continued increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide.
But a UW modeling study shows that sulfate particles in the stratosphere will not necessarily offset all the effects of future increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Additionally, there still is likely to be significant warming in regions where climate change impacts originally prompted a desire for geoengineered solutions, said Kelly McCusker, a UW doctoral student in atmospheric sciences.
The modeling study shows that significant changes would still occur because even increased aerosol levels cannot balance changes in atmospheric and oceanic circulation brought on by higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
"There is no way to keep the climate the way it is now. Later this century, you would not be able to recreate present-day Earth just by adding sulfate aerosols to the atmosphere," McCusker said.
She is lead author of a paper detailing the findings published online in December in the Journal of Climate. Coauthors are UW atmospheric sciences faculty David Battisti and Cecilia Bitz.
Using the National Center for Atmospheric Research's Community Climate System Model version 3 and working at the Texas Advanced Computing Center, the researchers found that there would, in fact, be less overall warming with a combination of increased atmospheric aerosols and increased carbon dioxide than there would be with just increased carbon dioxide.
They also found that injecting sulfate particles into the atmosphere might even suppress temperature increases in the tropics enough to prevent serious food shortages and limit negative impacts on tropical organisms in the coming decades.
But temperature changes in polar regions could still be significant. Increased winter surface temperatures in northern Eurasia could have serious ramifications for Arctic marine mammals not equipped to adapt quickly to climate change. In Antarctic winters, changes in surface winds would also bring changes in ocean circulation with potentially significant consequences for ice sheets in West Antarctica.Even with geoengineering, there still could be climate emergencies – such as melting ice sheets or loss of polar bear habitat – in the polar regions, the scientists concluded. They added that the odds of a "climate surprise" would be high because the uncertainties about the effects of geoengineering would be added to existing uncertainties about climate change.
For more information, contact McCusker at firstname.lastname@example.org
Vince Stricherz | EurekAlert!
Multi-year submarine-canyon study challenges textbook theories about turbidity currents
12.12.2017 | Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
How do megacities impact coastal seas? Searching for evidence in Chinese marginal seas
11.12.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
14.12.2017 | Health and Medicine
14.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
14.12.2017 | Life Sciences