By: Zahra Williams
Summary: Stratospheric aerosol geoengineering is the process of injecting a layer of aerosol particles to the upper atmosphere in an attempt to decrease climate changes caused by increased levels of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. Since climate change and global warming are often assessed by the surface temperature of the planet, the natural solution would be to cool off the planet which is what stratospheric aerosol geoengineering hopes to achieve. The amount of aerosols and how long the aerosol cloud is maintained in the stratosphere determines the amount of cooling will occur. Researchers have discovered that reducing warming by 50% by adding aerosols to the stratosphere could decrease major climate hazards in almost all regions; only a small fraction of land regions experienced worsening climate change effects. However, this method can only help fix the effects of climate change but not the main cause, which is an increase in CO₂ and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. There are many benefits to this method to mitigating climate change such as an increase in plant productivity, reducing or even reducing the sea level and amount of land ice sheets melting, and cooling down the planet. However, there are also many risks. Some of the risks include possible drought in Asia and Africa, less solar power, continued ocean acidification from CO₂, and human error. There is also a concern about how much it would cost to do this and if we even have the right to. Stratospheric aerosol geoengineering is a viable option to help mitigate the effects of climate change, but not without many costs.
Why we should care? Climate change is becoming a more pressing concern over time, and this method is a viable way to mitigate the effects of global warming without disrupting the environment in disastrous ways.
I found this particular article interesting because I’ve always been interested in climate change and ways to possibly reverse its effects, and I plan to work in a career that helps develop ways to accomplish this. This article explains what stratospheric aerosol geoengineering is and how it can help mitigate climate change and global warming. It provides research obtained during tests to ensure that this method is safe for the environment as well as some quotes from people that study this topic. It also went over the possible risks that come with using this method, and how some of them have been disproved by tests.
Science in Action.
Dr. Pete Irvine is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University.
Pete Irvine is a Earth system scientist and interdisciplinary scholar working at Harvard's Solar Geoengineering Research Program. He studies climate research and the effects of solar geoengineering. He researches the climate and broader impacts of solar geoengineering and relates them to the risks posed by climate change. His research is relevant to my topic because solar geoengineering relates to stratospheric aerosol geoengineering. Solar geoengineering is the idea that we can cool the planet by increasing the amount of sunlight reflected back to space, similar to how stratospheric aerosol geoengineering uses particles injected into the stratosphere to cool the planet.