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Scientists: Control climate by dimming sun

IN BRIEF

Researchers are using computer modeling to test the effects of solar geoengineering on rates of coral bleaching. The practice could reduce or eliminate the rate of climate change but the side effects are still unknown.

RADIATION REGULATION

dimScientists are beginning to seriously consider a radical plan to geoengineer the environment in an effort to combat climate change to potentially mitigate some of the harmful effects it is already having on us and the environment. This plan would call for the release of sulphate aerosols into the upper atmosphere, thus reflecting some of the sun’s rays back into space, theoretically reducing the rate of climate change.

Such a move could help to stop the deleterious effects of climate change, such ascoral bleaching and the increased occurrence and intensity of hurricanes. James Crabbe, from the University of Bedfordshire, UK, is conducting a study to discern what kind of effects this type of geoengineering may have on the region of the Caribbean where the study is taking place. Crabbe stated, “We show very convincingly that, by injecting sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere, sea surface temperatures would decrease significantly by 2069.”

Crabbe’s team used computer models to simulate what would happen should this plan be implemented. In the models, the introduction of solar geoengineering prevented coral bleaching by keeping the region’s ocean temperatures from rising. Moreover, the frequency of hurricanes was also decreased, which gives coral reefs more time to recover from the storms.

 

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