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 email@example.com
Vince Stricherz | EurekAlert!
Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology
22.06.2017 | Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
How reliable are shells as climate archives?
21.06.2017 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
26.06.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
26.06.2017 | Life Sciences
26.06.2017 | Health and Medicine