Artificially cooling earth to counter global warming risky: Study

16 November 2017

Proposals to counter global warming by imitating volcanic eruptions risked devastating effects on global regions prone to either tumultuous storms or prolonged drought, according to new research.

Geoengineering - the intentional manipulation of the climate to counter the effect of global warming with the injection of aerosols artificially into the atmosphere has been proposed as a potential way to deal with climate change.

However, according to new research led by climate experts from the University of Exeter, targeting geoengineering in one hemisphere could be severely detrimental to other regions.

They point out that while injections of aerosols in the northern hemisphere would reduce tropical cyclone activity responsible for such recent phenomena as Hurricane Katrina, at the same time it could lead to increased likelihood for drought in the Sahel, the area of sub-Saharan Africa just south of the Sahara desert.

The team of researchers has in response appealed to policymakers across the world to strictly regulate any large scale unilateral geoengineering programmes in the future to prevent inducing natural disasters in different parts of the world.

Dr Anthony Jones, a climate science expert from the University of Exeter and lead author on the paper says, "Our results confirm that regional solar geoengineering is a highly risky strategy which could simultaneously benefit one region to the detriment of another. It is vital that policymakers take solar geoengineering seriously and act swiftly to install effective regulation."

Solar geoengineering is seen as one of the ways to artificially reduce global temperatures and though, it is considered one of the most extreme options, is seen to be potentially one of the most effective.

It involves injecting aerosols into the atmosphere and when the gas combines with oxygen, droplets of sulfuric acid are formed. The droplets reflect sunlight away from the earth, which cools the planet.

Though this sounds good in theory, experts point out that the consequences of solar geoengineering are largely unknown.

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