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Geo-engineering could offset warming effects

Last Updated: Monday, October 22, 2012 - 15:19

Washington: A team of leading researchers from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a unique process to offset global warming caused by greenhouse gases.

Solar geo-engineering involves reflecting sunlight back into space. By increasing the concentrations of aerosols in the air or by creating low-altitude marine clouds, the proposed solar geo-engineering projects would scatter incoming solar heat away from the Earth`s surface.

Critics of geo-engineering have long warned that it would have unequal effects worldwide and could result in unforeseen consequences. They argue that the potential gains may not be worth the risk, according to a Harvard statement.

Gordon McKay, professor of applied physics at SEAS, said: "Instead, we can be thoughtful about various tradeoffs to achieve more selective results, such as the trade-off between minimizing global climate changes and minimizing residual changes at the worst-off location."

The study -- developed in collaboration with Douglas G. MacMartin of the California Institute of Technology, Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science, and Ben Kravitz, formerly of Carnegie and now at the Department of Energy -- explores the feasibility of using solar geo-engineering to counter the loss of Arctic sea ice.

"We found that tailored solar geo-engineering might limit Arctic sea ice loss with several times less total solar shading than would be needed in a uniform case," said McKay.

"These results indicate that varying geo-engineering efforts by region and over different periods of time could potentially improve the effectiveness of solar geo-engineering and reduce climate impacts in at-risk areas," says co-author Ken Caldeira, senior ecology scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science.


First Published: Monday, October 22, 2012 - 15:19
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