Artificially cooling planet 'risky strategy,' new research shows

Artificially cooling planet 'risky strategy,' new research shows

Proposals to reduce the effects of global warming by imitating volcanic eruptions could have a devastating effect on global regions prone to either tumultuous storms or prolonged drought, new research has shown.

Geoengineering - the intentional manipulation of the climate to counter the effect of global warming by injecting aerosols artificially into the atmosphere - has been mooted as a potential way to deal with climate change.

However new research led by climate experts from the University of Exeter suggests that targeting geoengineering in one hemisphere could have a severely detrimental impact for the other.

They suggest that while injections of aerosols in the northern hemisphere would reduce tropical cyclone activity - responsible for such recent phenomena including Hurricane Katrina - it would at the same time lead to an increased likelihood for drought in the Sahel, the area of sub-Saharan Africa just south of the Sahara desert.

In response, the team of researchers have called on policymakers worldwide to strictly regulate any large scale unilateral geoengineering programmes in the future to prevent inducing natural disasters in different parts of the world.

"Our results confirm that regional solar geoengineering is a highly risky strategy which could simultaneously benefit one region to the detriment of another. It is vital that policymakers take solar geoengineering seriously and act swiftly to install effective regulation," said Dr. Anthony Jones, a climate science expert from the University of Exeter and lead author on the paper.

The innovative research centers on the impact solar geoengineering methods that inject aerosols into the atmosphere may have on the frequency of tropical cyclones.

The controversial approach, known as stratospheric aerosol injection, is designed to effectively cool the Earth's surface by reflecting some sunlight before it reaches the surface. The proposals mimic the aftermath of volcanic eruptions, when aerosols are naturally injected into the atmosphere.

In the study, the researchers use sophisticated simulations with a fully coupled atmosphere-ocean model to investigate the effect of hemispheric stratospheric aerosol injection on North Atlantic tropical cyclone frequency.

They find injections of aerosols in the northern hemisphere would decrease North Atlantic tropical cyclone frequency, while injections contained to the southern hemisphere may potentially enhance it.

Crucially, the team warn however that while tropical cyclone activity in the North Atlantic could be suppressed by northern hemisphere injections, this would, at the same time, induce droughts in the Sahel.

These results suggest the uncertain effects of solar geoengineering - a proposed approach to counteract global warming - which should be considered by policymakers.

Professor Jim Haywood, from the Mathematics department at the University of Exeter and co-author of the study added: "This research shows how a global temperature target such as 1.5 or 2 °C needs to be combined with information on a more regional scale to properly assess the full range of climate impacts."

The research, Impacts of hemispheric solar geoengineering on tropical cyclone frequency, is published in the journal Nature Communications.

Provided by University of Exeter

Featured image: Mount Pinatubo eruption stratospheric sulfate aerosol layer. Credit: NASA

Comments

Eileen Kuch 1 month ago

The planet's already cooling down, due to the disappearance of a vast majority of sunspots. Truth is, the sun is the major factor in determining Earth's climate, and it's already approaching its minimum. Artificially cooling the planet through geo-engineering is only making it worse.

Cynthia Woollett 1 month ago

Humanity matters! Certain unalienable universal rights should not be crossed, geo-engineering is one of them! And, the redundancy of these types of articles is beyond ignorant. We know it's all part of Agenda 21/2030, and we do NOT consent, and that's all you need to know if you're going to choose to keep up this charade!

HERMAN 1 month ago

GEE, LETS SEE, THEY HAVE BEEN SPRAYING AEROSOLS FOR 25 YR'S PLUS. SLOW DEATH FROM ABOVE!

Mark 1 month ago

Its already happening
Prepare for food shortages and heavy snow and hail

Frances Perry 1 month ago

What they fail to mention is that geo-engineering has been going on for some time and is already proving catastrophic!

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