Geoengineering: Scientists Want to Inject Sulfur Dioxide Into Earth’s Atmosphere to Mitigate Climate Change

Scientists have revealed that by injecting a "right dose" of Sulfur dioxide into our planet's stratosphere could help reduce the effects of climate change overall. 

Scientists have proposed that injecting SO2 (Sulfur dioxide) into the atmosphere could help us mitigate climate change.

According to researchers from University College London, and colleagues from Harvard, if scientists inject the right “dose of sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere of our planet,” we could thicken the layer of light-reflecting aerosol particles artificially, and reduce the effects of climate change overall.

This idea is called “stratospheric aerosol geoengineering,” and its anything but new. What scientists want to do is add another artificial layer of aerosol particles into the upper atmospšehre, that way hoping to battle climate change which is caused by rising–accumulating–greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide.

Previous studies have shown that solar geoengineering is feasible with the help of commercially available aircraft technologies that would allow experts to deliver the right particles into the atmosphere at the cost of a few billion dollars per year.

Although the price may sound anything but cheap, this could reduce global average temperatures and help us fight climate change.

Nonetheless, it remains unanswered whether this approach could help reduce “important climate hazards at a regional level,” explains the UCL in a statement.

It remains unanswered whether this measure, for example, could help reduce region-by-region changes in water availability or extreme temperatures.

Now, a new study suggests that injecting sulfur dioxide into the Earth’s stratosphere may help minimalize important climate hazards without further impacting any particular region.

The new findings have been published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

The study uses results from a set of sophisticated simulations of stratospheric aerosol geoengineering, evaluating whether this approach may offset or worsen global climate change effects.

Scientists have discovered that “halving warming by adding aerosols to the stratosphere could moderate important climate hazards in almost all regions.”

Nonetheless, researchers say they saw and worsening of the effects of climate change in particular, and small fractions of land areas.

Most studies focus on a scenario where solar geoengineering offsets all future warming. While this reduces overall climate change substantially, we show that in these simulations, it goes too far in some respects leading to about 9% of the land area experiencing greater climate change, i.e., seeing the effects of climate change exacerbated,” revealed the lead author of the study, Professor Peter Irvine from the Eart Science department of UCL.

“However, if instead only half the warming is offset, then we find that stratospheric aerosol geoengineering could still reduce climate change overall but would only exacerbate change over 1.3% of the land area,” Professor Irvine added.

The researchers found that solar engineering seems to only treat certain symptoms of climate change and not the elemental cause–the excessive build-up of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in our planet’s atmosphere.

Our results suggest that when used at the right dose and alongside reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, stratospheric aerosol geoengineering could be useful for managing the impacts of climate change,” Dr. Irvine explained.

However, the researcher added that there are numerous uncertainties that remain unanswered about the potential effects of stratospheric aerosol geoengineering.

Environmental Research Letters
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