December 5, 2022

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How about a dangerous plan to try to lower the temperature of the poles by two degrees

The protests of the world community on the problem of climate change warn of an “ecological disaster” that will melt the poles / (REUTERS / Brendan McDermidt)

The Global warming Among other concerns, are the consequences it brings Poles Now, new research published in the journal Environmental Research Communications suggests that Cooling them by 2°C could potentially cool the Arctic and Antarctica Still Relatively low cost using conventional techniques Stratospheric Aerosol Injection (SAI) Particles that reflect heat. The Side effects They can be Unpleasant to health and politics is almost impossible, But the plan offers a way out Slow down or upside down Disaster Rising sea level Polar ice is projected to collapse.

The task force includes experts from Yale College, Harvard Kennedy School, Cornell University, Indiana University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in the United States. SAI is a controversial idea inspired by the cooling effects that follow large volcanic eruptions.

These natural phenomena release large amounts of dust, ash and often sulfur dioxide into the air. The first two make up the shadow spectrum Provides a short-term cooling effect for a couple of hours, But the rest rises into the stratosphere, where it combines with water molecules to form sulfuric acid particles, reflecting solar radiation and causing a lasting cooling effect on the surface.

The study proposes a goal of cooling the North and South Poles by 2°C, with Arctic temperatures already rising by more than 3°C over the past 50 years.
The study proposes a goal of cooling the North and South Poles by 2°C, with Arctic temperatures already rising by more than 3°C over the past 50 years.

Hence the idea behind SAI flies high-altitude aircraft by loading sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere at high altitudes, similar to the cooling effect of a volcano.. But the way sulfuric acid leaves the atmosphere is by coalescing into larger and larger droplets that eventually become heavy enough to fall to Earth. A form of acid rain, which is not friendly to plant and animal life. All sulfur oxides are unpleasant to breathe. It damages the lungs and causes asthma and bronchitis If they continue to breathe.

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At this point the Arctic and Antarctica feel the effects of climate change worse than the rest of the world; They are warming several times faster than the global average, causing massive ice sheets to collapse and melt. All climate models take into account sea level rise, which will have catastrophic effects around the world. Facing our current path, the Arctic summer sea ice will disappear by about 2050 or earlier, humanity is at a crossroads. All options must be on the table, evaluated, and at some point ready to make a change.

SAI research is rapidly moving toward being concentrated at the poles, an approach known as subpolar ordering.Can generate best income by far Less money and acid rain rather than a universal model. Previous research has indicated that spring and early summer are the most effective seasons to do this, and that doing it at the same pole could have negative effects on global climate. with the seasons. A new study from a wide range of contributors examines what a bilateral UPS project aimed at “renovating” the Arctic and Antarctica would look like, how much it would cost, and where the technology and equipment gaps might lie.

The Arctic and Antarctica feel the effects of climate change worse than the rest of the world
The Arctic and Antarctica feel the effects of climate change worse than the rest of the world

The study proposes a goal of cooling the North and South Poles by 2°C, with Arctic temperatures already rising by more than 3°C over the past 50 years. It proposes that aerosol injections be carried out at the latitudes of Oslo, Helsinki, Homer, Alaska and Magadan, Siberia in the Northern Hemisphere, and the 60th parallel at the level of the southern tip of Patagonia in the Southern Hemisphere. At these latitudes, the troposphere is lower and your aircraft doesn’t have to fly as high, so the job can be done more cheaply. This study chooses an altitude of 13 km. The released particles move slowly towards the poles, concentrating their effects. To achieve the 2°C outcome, the project injects 6.7 teragrams (6.7 billion kg) of sulfur dioxide per year at each pole, requiring 13.4 teragrams of material per year.

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The study looked at logistics and found that existing aircraft could not carry enough payload at a suitable altitude to do the job. Military mid-air refueling aircraft are the closest thing currently available, but cannot reach target altitudes without significantly reducing their payload. For example, the McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender can reach the spray zone with a payload of 58,400kg, but only 22% of its designed payload, so it carries a lot more weight in each flight.

Big swings in temperature and violent storms are signs of how the climate is changing, experts say
Big swings in temperature and violent storms are signs of how the climate is changing, experts say

Instead, the study suggests Stratospreyer The specially designed SAIL-43K is a version of an aircraft previously mentioned for more SAI missions near the equator. The engine will carry a payload of 76,190 kg on each mission, but its takeoff weight will be 35,000 kg less than the KC-10. To achieve the cooling target, the program will require 125 purpose-built SAIL-43Ks, totaling 1,458 missions per day during the four-month injection period at each flying pole. These planes take off, climb for 30 minutes, drop all the sulfur dioxide in two minutes, and then come down. For the next 30 minutes, the next hour will be reloading and refueling for the next mission.

There are many aerodromes suitable for this type of operation in the Northern Hemisphere; Almost all of the 60th parallel falls on land. In the south, things get a bit more difficult, as southern Patagonia has only a few airfields with proper runways. These airports need to be upgraded handling a total of 110 operations per hour, or slightly more than the world’s current busiest airport; This will be a huge task in the Southern Hemisphere. This infrastructure work will take until 125 aircraft are built and in production, roughly 15 years after the decision to move forward with the project.

Arctic summer sea ice could disappear by 2050 or sooner / (Christine Laidre/University of Washington)
Arctic summer sea ice could disappear by 2050 or sooner / (Christine Laidre/University of Washington)

This is not an easy part of the process, and a plan that disproportionately affects people living at the latitudes in question will require some degree of universal agreement. basically According to the committee, the cost of this project will be 11,000 million USD per year. That’s about a third of the cost of other projects worldwide with the same cooling goal “Compared to other potential strategies to combat the impacts or causes of climate change, SAI is remarkably cost-effective,” the researchers note.

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Although it is calibrated to reduce polar temperatures by 2°C and freeze sea ice at the poles, the plan has many unintended side effects. The researchers note that sulfur compounds added to the stratosphere can affect ozone concentrations through a number of different effects, delaying or even reversing recovery from the Antarctic ozone hole. He notes that the effects of teragrams of sulfur dioxide and associated acid rain deposits are dangerous to humans and the wider environment, and more research is needed. And it also assumes some stratospheric warming.

However, the researchers conclude that “While it has not yet been established that the physical or social impacts of any SAI project will be net positive, it is clear that a project focused on significantly cooling the world’s polar and subpolar regions. as logistically feasible. It can stop and reverse the melting of sea ice, land ice and permafrost in the most vulnerable parts of Earth’s cryosphere. This will significantly reduce global sea level rise.

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