Harvard scientists will spend the next year experiment on the cooling of the Earth

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Talk about such a study began to go to the media last month. A group of scientists from Harvard and Yale universities proposed “to deceive the Sun” in an original, but not yet proven way to combat climate change.” But, as it turned out, it was only about to check whether solar geo-engineering is feasible from a technical and economic point of view in principle.

As it became known, the idea was picked up by another group of Harvard scientists, who decided to test it during the experiment, which will determine the influence of solar geo-engineering over our head. Their experiment at a cost of three million dollars may begin as early as next year, reports ScienceAlert. More details about the project reports the journal Nature.

The project is called the “Stratospheric controlled Perturbation experiment” (Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment, SCoPEx) and should be part of the Harvard University solar geoengineering Research Program (Harvard’s Solar Geoengineering Research Program). While most studies on the effects of sprayed chemicals on the atmosphere for cooling the planet are based on computer simulations, 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 kilometers above The earth’s surface, it is planned to launch a balloon with the help of which a small aerosol balloon of calcium carbonate will be released. As soon as the substance enters the atmosphere, its particles will scatter in the air space of about 1 kilometer in length and 100 meters in diameter. Then, within 24 hours, the balloon will fly through this field of scattered particles, analyzing their behavior, as well as observe the processes taking place in the sky.

The researchers want to find out whether particles in the atmosphere that reflect the sun’s rays can affect the cooling of the planet’s surface. During the experiment, it is planned to partially recreate the effects of the eruption of mount Pinatubo in 1991, which led to a decrease in ambient temperature by 0.5 degrees Celsius.

However, solar geo-engineering has its drawbacks. According to some earlier studies, the dispersion of large quantities of particles reflecting sunlight into the atmosphere can have serious consequences, for example, affecting yields, weather conditions and the ozone layer. By the way, the last factor explains why the Team of researchers of the scopex experiment plans to use calcium carbonate. Previous studies have shown that this compound is safest for the stratosphere.

In addition, the SCoPEx experiment will be small — scale-the amount of substance that is planned to be released into the stratosphere will not exceed the volume of emissions by a conventional commercial passenger liner in one minute of its engines.

Even if the experiments prove successful and demonstrate that solar geoengineering is worth developing, it will not be the ideal solution to combat global warming, the researchers say. Humanity will still need to reduce carbon emissions, as they are considered to be the main cause of climate change. In addition, solar geo-engineering will not be able to help solve related issues, such as increasing the acidity level of ocean waters.


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Updated: December 5, 2018 — 1:59 am

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