General, Research, Technology

Harvard scientists will conduct an Earth cooling experiment next year

Talk about a similar study began to go toMedia back last month. A group of scientists from Harvard and Yale universities proposed to “trick” the Sun into an “original, but as yet unproven way to combat climate change.” But, as it turned out, it was only a matter of checking whether solar geoengineering is feasible from a technical and economic point of view in principle.

As it became known, the idea was picked up by another groupHarvard scientists, who nevertheless decided to test it during an experiment that will determine the effects of solar geoengineering over our heads. Their experiment worth three million dollars may begin next year, according to the portal ScienceAlert. More details about the project are reported by Nature magazine.

The project is called “Stratospheric Controlleda Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx) and should be part of the Harvard’s Solar Geoengineering Research Program. While most studies on the effects of atomized chemicals in the atmosphere to cool the planet are based on computer modeling, the SCoPEx experiment is proposed to be carried out in real conditions in the Earth's stratosphere.

During the experiment, at a height of about 20 kilometersit is planned to launch a balloon above the Earth’s surface with the help of which a small aerosol can of calcium carbonate will be released. As soon as a substance enters the atmosphere, its particles will disperse in airspace with a length of about 1 kilometer and a diameter of 100 meters. Then, within 24 hours, a balloon will fly through this field of scattered particles, analyzing their behavior, and also observe the processes taking place in the sky.

Researchers want to find out if particles canthe atmosphere, reflecting the sun's rays, affect the cooling of the planet's surface. During the experiment, it is planned to partially recreate the consequences of the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, which led to a decrease in ambient temperature by 0.5 degrees Celsius.

At the same time, solar geoengineering has its ownlimitations. According to the findings of some earlier studies, spraying a large volume of particles reflecting sunlight into the atmosphere can lead to serious consequences, for example, adversely affecting crop yields, weather conditions and the ozone layer. By the way, the last factor explains why the research team of the SCoPEx experiment plans to use calcium carbonate. Previous studies have shown that this compound is the safest for the stratosphere.

In addition, the SCoPEx experiment willsmall-scale - the volumes of the substance that is planned to be released into the stratosphere will not exceed the emissions of an ordinary commercial passenger liner in one minute of operation of its engines.

Even if the experiments are successful anddemonstrate that solar geoengineering is worth it to develop, it will not be the perfect solution to the fight against global warming, the researchers note. Humanity will still need to reduce carbon emissions, as they are considered to be the main cause of climate change. In addition, solar geoengineering will not be able to help solve related issues, for example, increasing the acidity level of ocean waters.

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