Study: Tailored Solar Geoengineering Could Combat Global Warming
October 23, 2012 9:37 AM
Solar geoengineering involves techniques like creating low-altitude marine clouds or increasing the aerosol concentrations in the stratosphere
Much like tailoring different articles of clothing to match the weather, a new study suggests customizing solar geoengineering to compliment the needs of different regions in an effort to combat global warming.
Solar geoengineering is a method of fighting global warming by reflecting sunlight back into space. Solar geoengineering involves techniques like creating low-altitude marine clouds or increasing the
aerosol concentrations in the stratosphere
A group of researchers from the California Institute of Technology, the Carnegie Institution for Science and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have created a study that shows how tailored solar geoengineering can help certain regions fight global warming as needed rather than a uniform method of solar geoengineering -- which could negatively affect weather in certain areas.
Some are opposed to solar geoengineering because it can
affect weather around the world
. For instance, greenhouse gases suppress precipitation, and reflecting a certain amount of sunlight back into space would not restore this precipitation. Greenhouse gases and aerosols affect Earth's heat and rain in different areas in different ways. With limited sunlight, everything could change and have dramatic consequences.
But that's where tailored solar geoengineering comes in. Different regions would only receive the amount of reflection needed to keep weather stable, yet reduce causes of global warming. The researchers used a model to predict how this would work, and found that reflecting sunlight away from the Earth based on region and season could help
fight global warming
without seriously affecting weather.
"There has been a lot of loose talk about region-specific climate modification," said the study. "By contrast, our research uses a more systematic approach to understand how geoengineering might be used to limit a specific impact. We found that tailored solar geoengineering might limit Arctic sea ice loss with several times less total solar shading than would be needed in a uniform case."
However, the researchers did add that solar radiation management could produce uncertain outcomes.
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