Could geoengineering stop heat waves?
July 16, 2012 | Source: Scientific American
When Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, the injection of sulfur particles into the atmosphere cooled the planet.
Taking inspiration from nature, some scientists have begun studying whether a man-made injection of such sulfate aerosols might stave off the worst of global warming. But could the technology also be used more locally to beat the heat?
That’s the question explored by three UCLA scientists in a manuscript submitted (pdf) to the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. The scientists ran a computer model to determine whether putting particles 12-kilometers up could cool the Golden State (pdf) under such conditions.
The answer appears to be yes. Afternoon temperatures declined significantly in conjunction with the amount of particles boosted to the stratosphere.
It’s unclear how exactly the sulfate aerosols would get to the stratosphere absent a volcanic eruption. There would be effects downwind in the desert Southwest, including potentially even less rain. And the sulfates might eat away at the protective ozone layer.