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Models show a 90 percent reduction of the magnitude of climate change

Researchers at the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology are looking to optimize climate change reduction by injecting sulfates into the stratosphere. George Ban-Weiss, lead author of the study, along with his team of Carnegie scientists, have studied how the injection of aerosols of sulfate into the stratosphere will affect Earth's chemistry and climate, and which aerosol distribution pattern will bring them closest to their climate goals. 

To do this, Ban-Weiss and his team used a global climate model with different sulfate aerosol concentrations depending on latitude to run five simulations. They then determined what distribution of sulfates would bring them closest to climate goals by using the results from the simulations in an optimization model. These distributions were then tested in the global climate model to see how close they came to these goals. 

"We know that sulfate can cool the Earth because we have observed global temperature decreases following volcanic eruptions," said Ban-Weiss. "Past computer model simulations have shown that injecting sulfate uniformly into the stratosphere could reduce the surface temperature of the Earth, but the equator would be over cooled and the poles under cooled. You would also make the Earth drier, and decrease surface water runoff."

But Ban-Weiss' results from his climate models showed that more sulfate over the poles rather than tropical regions would result in a low-carbon climate. But when sulfates were distributed uniformly, changes in the water cycle were "most effectively diminished." If the right amount of uniformly distributed aerosols were injected into the stratosphere, the consequence of climate change could be decreased by 90 percent and the change in runoff would be decreased by two-thirds. But when aerosols are distributed latitudinally as a parabola, temperature change decreased by 94 percent while runoff changes were only cut in half.

"Changes in temperature and the hydrological cycle cannot be simultaneously minimized because the hydrological cycle is more sensitive to changes in solar radiation than are surface air temperatures," said Ban-Weiss. 

Ken Caldeira, co-author of the study, added that the study was mainly aimed to develop "a new methodology" for observing the current climate change problem, and that their model does not include all process that are essential in reality. Their results are strictly illustrative and not yet ready to provide a basis for policy decisions. But he also mentioned that the models of course worked. 

"Our optimization model worked well because the complex climate models indicate that much of the climate system operates as a very linear system," said Caldeira. "This is surprising when you hear all the talk of tipping points."

This study was published in Environmental Research Letters this month. 

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Shoot first, ask questions later
By Zok on 9/16/2010 7:28:52 PM , Rating: 5
Wouldn't it be prudent to fully understand "global warming" before trying to "fix" it. New research on global warming is contradicting research from 3 months ago (I pulled that out of my ass, but you get the point)... Piling on fixes on top of fixes doesn't seem like the best course of action (i.e. what are we going to have to do to fix the "sulfate crisis" 15 years after we've pumped it into the atmosphere?), at least until we understand the trade offs between the original problem and the one we're creating.

RE: Shoot first, ask questions later
By amanojaku on 9/16/2010 8:17:43 PM , Rating: 5
New research on global warming is contradicting research from 3 months ago (I pulled that out of my ass, but you get the point)
That statement's more accurate than the global warming research from the last 10 years!

By phxfreddy on 9/20/2010 5:49:20 PM , Rating: 3
I always know just from the title that Tiffany wrote it!

...if it is bilge water about global warming then Tiffany gets straight at tenderizing more dead horse flesh!

RE: Shoot first, ask questions later
By RivuxGamma on 9/16/2010 8:34:38 PM , Rating: 5
"sulfate" is a very generic term. There's all kinds of stuff that can be bonded with sulfate. Like 2 hydrogen atoms.

I would get a mighty chuckle out of a bunch of people creating acid rain to combat global warming.

RE: Shoot first, ask questions later
By klutzInMotion on 9/16/2010 9:17:48 PM , Rating: 5
I can already imagine this happening.

Scientist: "Working! Working! Wor.... Melting! Melting! Melting!!!"

RE: Shoot first, ask questions later
By paydirt on 9/17/2010 1:01:58 PM , Rating: 2
I love climate researchers and their models, especially when they present their models as factual data (luckily not the case in this article).

Maybe they should just lower the power of the sun by 1%

RE: Shoot first, ask questions later
By ekv on 9/17/2010 4:17:09 PM , Rating: 3
Brrrr! 1% is too cold. Could you nudge it up a bit.

By geddarkstorm on 9/17/2010 3:51:39 PM , Rating: 2
I think these people need to remember what the atmosphere of Venus is mostly made out of ;).

By phxfreddy on 9/20/2010 5:51:27 PM , Rating: 2
wooot.....that is funny ...thanks for that one!

Global warming versus Acid Rain! ......

Its like Alien versus Predator !

RE: Shoot first, ask questions later
By sleepeeg3 on 9/16/2010 8:56:19 PM , Rating: 5
Environmentalists contain sulfates - shoot environmentalists into the air?

RE: Shoot first, ask questions later
By spread on 9/16/2010 11:43:07 PM , Rating: 3
With that high soy organic vegan diet, they'll make a fine aerosol.

RE: Shoot first, ask questions later
By BladeVenom on 9/17/2010 1:37:12 AM , Rating: 2
Or Solylent Green.

By theapparition on 9/17/2010 9:53:30 AM , Rating: 2
No way!
I don't want to eat stupid.

RE: Shoot first, ask questions later
By Thrymm on 9/16/2010 10:41:09 PM , Rating: 2
Also what if another Pinatubo eruption happens, or worse a Toba scale one? Ice for all!

RE: Shoot first, ask questions later
By AlexWade on 9/17/2010 8:19:36 AM , Rating: 4
I always thought it was funny solutions like these. The only purpose in proposing them is to get more grant money. Think about it for a second. People who believe in man-made climate change say that humans are altering the environment. So, to fix that, these people want to alter the environment. To me, it is like trying to dig out of a hole.

RE: Shoot first, ask questions later
By ImEmmittSmith on 9/17/2010 9:44:55 AM , Rating: 5
It is ALL about getting more grant money. I know a PHD and he is like a politican, in that when the grant money or investment money is beginning to run its course, its time to come up with some research that would require more time and money and he starts campaigning for funding. It is sad, but true! When many researchers started down the path of grant/investment based research with good intentions, but they found out how easy it is go get people to fund their projects and soon it's not about the research, but about the money to continue the research. Some research is never ending and inconclusive.

By geddarkstorm on 9/17/2010 3:53:22 PM , Rating: 2
It is true; but only for the academic world primarily. This is why I'm looking at alternate branches.

Still, the grant system is important, to have some sort of system to make sure money is going to worthy projects and not just anything thrown out there. But ultimately, what is "worthy" is defined by politics not just the intrinsic value of the science itself!

RE: Shoot first, ask questions later
By FaaR on 9/17/10, Rating: 0
RE: Shoot first, ask questions later
By knutjb on 9/17/2010 10:32:22 PM , Rating: 2
But Newton was the gospel for how long...

By giant781 on 9/19/2010 9:21:10 PM , Rating: 2
The US and the USSR both got to the moon using only Newtonian mechanics. There's a lot you can do with an idea that's only wrong at the edges.

RE: Shoot first, ask questions later
By MozeeToby on 9/17/10, Rating: -1
RE: Shoot first, ask questions later
By mkrech on 9/17/2010 2:34:13 PM , Rating: 1
Let's assume that you're someone who accepts that humans are causing a catastrophic global warming. Then let's assume that you're also not a complete idiot:

Sorry, you can't have it both ways.

By JKflipflop98 on 9/17/2010 8:54:16 PM , Rating: 1

RE: Shoot first, ask questions later
By knutjb on 9/17/2010 10:36:57 PM , Rating: 2
Pulling CO2 out of the air is too energy intensive to be useful, putting safe particulates into the upper atmosphere seems like an idea worth pursuing.
Why do that when you can focus on the source of the emissions like maybe the smoke stack, I don't mean by shutting off the process using said smoke stack. Besides, don't the plants get a say in any of this?

By AnnihilatorX on 9/17/2010 8:37:52 AM , Rating: 2
That's of course when you have unlimited time in your hands.
Given something you don't understand but has potential to cause disaster, you'd hope you would be wrong but you should research some potential solutions at the same time as to understand more.

By kattanna on 9/17/2010 10:49:03 AM , Rating: 2
there is also one VERY important thing these yahoos are overlooking.

right now some of the island nations are actually looking to SUE the industrial nations over us altering the climate via CO2, which currently cannot be confirmed as THE cause of climate change.

but now these yahoos want to directly effect the climate that will be able to be traced back 100% back to them. what happens when certain countries are negatively effected, do you think they will not take any action?

By TacticalTrading on 9/16/2010 9:09:49 PM , Rating: 3
They haven't figured out how to anything in the REAL WORLD.

They figured out a new computer model that when added to one of the many flavors of climate models, which are routinely made up change and or altered in an effort to secure greater funding, will eliminate 90% of the warming predicted by said model.

However, while I am sure these models are complicated, it is all make believe, much like my 6 year old's Polly Pocket World. None of this stuff has anything to do with what happens in the REAL WORLD because at this point the climate people are just a tiny bit short of understanding how climate in the REAL WORLD works.

So instead of spending Billions on solving a perceived problem with a make believe model, How about if we focus the effort on understanding how climate actually works in the real world.

Now, when they start predicting hurricanes with month long accuracy.... Well, then we can begin a reasonable discussion about what might or might not happen next year.

RE: Do this Do that... You are missing the point
By CowKing on 9/16/2010 11:55:41 PM , Rating: 2
well, I don't know about your other thoughts, but Chaos Theory totally destroys weather prediction beyond a week or so.

RE: Do this Do that... You are missing the point
By Amiga500 on 9/17/2010 2:29:55 AM , Rating: 2
***Warning - bit of a geek moment in this post***

Strictly speaking, its not chaos theory that typically destroys such short term weather forecasts. The atmosphere is composed entirely of Newtonian fluids, therefore predicting the behaviour of these fluids into the future is independent of chaos theory. Of course, to fully describe (numerically) the properties and behaviour of a fluid would require use of the full Navier Stokes equations in a Direct Numerical Simulation. Which would still be far too much for every computer in the world combined...

... Maybe in the future, but it will need a seismic shift in computer power.

Admittedly, your solar boundary condition may change somewhat due to chaos theory, but the effects on the weather (over a short term) are usually small. Or there could be volcanic activity or something similar.

By HotFoot on 9/17/2010 8:12:25 AM , Rating: 2
The previous poster was right. Being able to fully mathematically define the physics doesn't preclude chaotic behaviour. Even a "perfect" DNS simulation of the entire atmosphere - which would take a computer the size of the Earth to do in real time - will diverge from observed behaviour after a period of time. Sensitivity to initial conditions is one of the hallmarks of a chaotic system.

By HotFoot on 9/17/2010 8:15:21 AM , Rating: 2
Also, DNS doesn't use N-S equations. It's just F=m*a for every single particle in the system. You might have been thinking of large eddy simulation (LES).

By geddarkstorm on 9/17/2010 3:59:55 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, it's about anything past 3 days loses confidence.

RE: Do this Do that... You are missing the point
By kattanna on 9/17/2010 10:44:41 AM , Rating: 3
Ken Caldeira, co-author of the study, added that the study was mainly aimed to develop "a new methodology" for observing the current climate change problem, and that their model does not include all process that are essential in reality . Their results are strictly illustrative and not yet ready to provide a basis for policy decisions. But he also mentioned that the models of course worked .

notice the 2 bolded statements. their models work, according to them, at the same time they admit their models do not include all processes ESSENTIAL to reality.

yet we are to take these models as something meaningful?


give me an old dos computer and a copy of simearth and I too can make a model that will work and be as equally as relevant.

By giant781 on 9/19/2010 9:53:36 PM , Rating: 2
I know you're being sarcastic, but you actually could make a climate model on an old computer (or your current one) and disregard many of the effects in reality and still have relevant results.

Lets begin by assuming you have a basic knowledge of geometry. Imagine the earth from far away. Its sunward side is like a disc of area pi*r^2 where r is the radius of the earth in meters.

Then the amount of energy absorbed is the measured solar input s in Watts per square meter over the whole square meter area of the Earth, s*pi*r^2.

Now from far away we can see that the Earth is not white but a pale blue dot. It reflects some solar energy, but not all. It absorbs 1 minus its reflectance, so if it reflects 30%, it must absorb 70%. Lets call absorbtion "a". Now the rate of absorbed energy is a*s*pi*r^2.

Now if you are familiar with the Boltzmann distribution (perhaps you have an electric stove and noticed the element becomes red when it is hot?) you will know that all objects emit radiation in a spectrum according to their temperature at a rate proportional to their temperature multiplied by itself 4 times. The constant of proportionality is named after Boltzmann, lets call it "B". So the Earth re-emits the energy it absorbed at a rate, and this gives it a temperature, the rate is B*T^4.

If the rate of absorbing is perfectly balanced by rate of emission, a*s*pi*r^2 = B*T^4 and you now have an equation to solve for the average global temperature of the Earth. Uh-oh! We forgot to include the atmosphere's effects as a blanket mediating the emission by the Earth of its energy.

But if you solve it and make a quick assumption of how much the atmosphere warms Earth, you can get a relevant and realistic result even though we did a great injustice to true reality in our assumptions.

Welcome to science! It actually works! (As if you didn't notice from the fact that you are using a computer created by scientific theories and modeling!) Check this out for more:

Too much focus on "global warming" alone
By IntelUser2000 on 9/16/2010 7:10:31 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure about the effects of Sulfates on the atmosphere but man, I can't help but think how everyone is entirely focused on global warming with a damn-everything-else-to-hell attitude.

Shouldn't it be about clearing up the air first? I mean reducing not only CO2 but everything else as well?

RE: Too much focus on "global warming" alone
By shin0bi272 on 9/17/2010 6:57:26 AM , Rating: 3
CO2 is only 3% of the atmosphere. Plants breathe CO2. So it stands to reason that more CO2 in the atmosphere would mean greener plants and faster growing plants. Yet the ecomentalists want to cut co2 production... why do they hate trees?

By Schrag4 on 9/17/2010 9:18:02 AM , Rating: 3
You should also have mentioned that people like to eat plants. Or more importantly, COWS like to eat plants (and I like to eat cows!).

By kattanna on 9/17/2010 12:03:37 PM , Rating: 2
CO2 is only 3% of the atmosphere

incorrect by a long shot

its currently at about 390 Parts Per Million

or 0.0390% of the atmosphere

RE: Too much focus on "global warming" alone
By AssBall on 9/17/2010 9:25:22 AM , Rating: 2
closest to their climate goals

This here says it all. WHAT CLIMATE GOALS? And what about MY climate goals? Maybe they are totally different.

By kattanna on 9/17/2010 10:53:08 AM , Rating: 2
This here says it all. WHAT CLIMATE GOALS? And what about MY climate goals? Maybe they are totally different.

hush you.. dont you know that in the year 1850 the world was PERFECT?!?!

and we should do everything in our powers to take it back to that one point in time?


By The Raven on 9/17/2010 10:15:13 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah I agree, but my thing is that most things that the global warming nuts decry are also those things which pollute the air. So I wish that they would try to sell it as such and maybe people will get on board and there would be less argument about 'weather' or not man-made climate change is real or not, and we could focus on the obvious fact that the air is dirty because of our cars, factories, etc.

The clean air aspect always seems to get lost in these arguments. People go back and forth and then settle on, "well I don't believe in global warming, so I don't give a damn what mpgs my car gets." The financial aspect seems to get lost in the mix too.

It seems people can only get one issue deep into their decisions these days. Like "Lets boycott Target because they support Planned Parenthood (don't want to get controversial here, but an organization that ALLEGEDLY encourages pre-marital relations) but then they don't think about the fact that maybe Target is funding more education and modest clothing at discount prices that reduces pre-marital sex on the whole.

Sorry I'm just making a comment here and didn't put much thought into my example but I hope you catch my drift that people rarely look at the big picture and that to bring man-made climate change into the picture is unnecessary if you want to persuade people to change their beliefs on our impact on the environment.

We don't know...
By BigToque on 9/16/2010 7:37:39 PM , Rating: 3
We don't know who struck first, us or them, but we know that it was us that scorched the sky...

RE: We don't know...
By aegisofrime on 9/17/2010 5:34:26 AM , Rating: 2
I'm glad I wasn't the only one who thought of The Matrix after reading this article.

It's especially more disturbing if you have seen "The Second Renaissance" from The Animatrix.

RE: We don't know...
By DKantUno on 9/17/2010 7:06:56 AM , Rating: 2
I was just about to say "And thus, The Second Renaissance begins...". Although considering we don't have sentient machines yet, I might have been jumping the gun. :)

RE: We don't know...
By theapparition on 9/17/2010 10:05:37 AM , Rating: 2
Strangely enough, my first thought was Higlander 2. Bad movie, but whose plot may be somewhat more relevant.

Ozone hole in atmosphere so evil corporation puts up a shield that protects the earth, but limits daylight, reduced plant life, and the corporation now holds humanity at ransom. Truth be told, there is no Ozone problem and is only there to further the greed and agenda of the shield corporation.

Doesn't that sound awfully familiar to the IPCC and ilk, trying to govern the world with doomsday scenarios? Do this NOW or it will be too late. GW tipping points. Irreversible glacier melting. Every coast under 50ft of water.

Money now. Money NOW. Give up governmental environmental control. Then sovereignty. Then freedom.

In other news
By ZachDontScare on 9/17/2010 3:01:58 PM , Rating: 2
In other news, researchers are also planning on shooting the Easter Bunny.

So that will make two fictional things being 'fought'.

RE: In other news
By kfonda on 9/17/2010 4:38:52 PM , Rating: 2
You must be totally crazy to say that.

I know the Easter Bunny is real. He left me colored eggs earlier this year. If they try to shoot him, they're going to have to go through me first.

RE: In other news
By knutjb on 9/17/2010 10:46:20 PM , Rating: 2
It's OK with me so long as the leave Santa alone, I like his gifts more than the Easter Bunny's. Uh oh, how much pollution comes from reindeer?

By kfonda on 9/17/2010 10:20:26 AM , Rating: 2
There is no more global warming according to the Obama administration.

They're going to call it Global Climate Disruption now instead.

By knutjb on 9/17/2010 10:54:54 PM , Rating: 2
They're going to call it Global Climate Disruption now instead.
Sounds scary and evil. Now I know what to dress up as for Halloween. I don't think it'll stick, all the Homer Simpson's out there won't remember the name. Anything longer than ummm donuts is too long.

exactly like Keynesian economics
By dgingeri on 9/17/2010 8:13:31 AM , Rating: 2
The problem here is over-compensation, just like Keynesian economic policies. With Keynesian economic policies, the response to 10% of businesses doing bad things (breaking laws, bad decision, etc) is to clamp down on EVERYTHING and EVERYONE. This doesn't work.

This plan will do nothing but bring back the little ice age. We'll have shorter growing seasons, more droughts, and more fungus growth on all our food. They'll see the temps back down to little ice age levels and declare a victory, while the population of the world starts shrinking to famine and plague.

RE: exactly like Keynesian economics
By goku on 9/17/2010 10:58:06 AM , Rating: 1
Agreed, shit you can't just blame keynesian economics though, all government is like that thanks to politicians placating to whiny consumers. Every time "a bad thing happens", a law is passed, even if that "bad thing" is already illegal. Too many draconian thanks to the status quo of making a law for every conceivable event that is bound to occur.

Misleading Title
By MrPickins on 9/16/2010 7:14:55 PM , Rating: 2
Their results are strictly illustrative and not yet ready to provide a basis for policy decisions.

If the results are not intended to be used to set policy, then why does the article title imply that this is an action that they are ready to take?

Anyone ever read the book Mistborn?
By puffpio on 9/16/2010 7:20:26 PM , Rating: 2
volcanic gas cover to be shielded from the sun...but hello ashfalls and brown plants

By RivuxGamma on 9/16/2010 8:35:47 PM , Rating: 2
Can't we just make a giant disc to block out the sun?

2012 may happen
By Bioniccrackmonk on 9/16/2010 9:26:23 PM , Rating: 2
But only because we decide to play god with the planet before we understand all its intricacies.

By Connoisseur on 9/16/2010 9:29:32 PM , Rating: 2
aren't these the same guys that were covered in Super Freakanomics? Yeah... this was exactly the same theory. News is a bit old.

By goku on 9/16/2010 10:12:23 PM , Rating: 2
First we worried about global cooling thanks to the PM matter and smog (sulfur mind you!) from the Internal Combustion Engines, powerplants and dirty industry back in the 1960s. We fixed that problem but then discovered the issue of too much CO2 which results in global warming. Now they're trying to go back to square one? How retarded is that.. Also this doesn't even address the issue of too much CO2 being absorbed by the ocean which increases the acidity and is killing the coral reef..

acid rain
By shin0bi272 on 9/17/2010 6:54:11 AM , Rating: 2
Anyone remember acid rain? You think shooting sulfates into the atmosphere MIGHT cause the resurgence of acid rain? econmentalists were all up in arms about runoff and DDT and nuclear waste but now they are advocating something similar in order to "save the planet"... so either they are incompetent or the "polluters" were right in the beginning.

By trajan on 9/17/2010 9:31:22 AM , Rating: 2
I get that this is not the New York Times but please don't have a glaring falsehood in the *title* of your article!

I clicked on this thinking, "wow, someone is actually going to *do this* instead of just talk about it" and instead.. nope.. There's no plan to fire anything into the atmosphere. It's just another study.

I like reading about this stuff but why on earth would you have your title be completely at odds with what is actually happening? Would someone at DT please fix this?

One question...
By acer905 on 9/17/2010 12:37:27 PM , Rating: 2
Regardless of whether or not there might possibly be some form of climate changes that have been caused by people... How do the mighty experts know what is the optimal climate for a planet that has experienced thousands of climate change periods in its billions of years of existence?

I know that the idea that we did something freaks people out, but if a planet as a whole can survive mass extinction events, why does anyone believe we could destroy it? An explosion equivalent to 100 Teratons of TNT caused (or heavily contributed to) the K-T extinction event. We have never developed anything that could top 100 Megatons.

People should really stop panicking about the idea that we have the power to destroy the earth

By gregpet on 9/17/2010 1:38:28 PM , Rating: 2
really, really, really hates this idea!

By Director on 9/17/2010 6:40:38 PM , Rating: 2
Do some googling on 'geoengineering' and see what you get, it's only now they are starting to come out into the mainstream admit it. The sulphate proposed is pretty toxic stuff but I can't remember ATM what type of sulphate it actually is.

By rika13 on 9/18/2010 2:32:00 AM , Rating: 2
money says someone screws it up or cheaps out and throws SO2 up there (its sulfur dioxide), it combines with water making H2SO4, better known as battery acid, hilarity ensues

or wait...
By hsew on 9/18/2010 11:09:17 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe the reduced temperatures following eruptions were a result of sunlight being blocked/reflected by the ash clouds (as it becomes distributed throughout the atmosphere the atmosphere becomes slightly less permeable to sunlight for a small amount of time)? I can't believe that scenario wasn't mentioned as a possibility.

Kinda supports the whole "sun activity has infinitely more influence on temperature than the harmful gases that come from Al Gore's oral orifice" fact.

By Phoque on 9/19/2010 8:23:34 PM , Rating: 2
suggest 1 in 4 human shoots himself in the head instead.

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