Tag: Geoengineering

Ocean whitening to fight global warming? Scratch that one off the list

The Arctic is heating up fast, which will have big effects on the rest of the planet, but plans to slow the meltdown by whitening the ocean surface probably wouldn’t work.

Another geoengineering scheme found lacking

Staff Report

FRISCO — It works on teeth, so why not the Arctic? At least that’s what some engineers have said, proposing that artificially whitening parts of the far northern ocean could help solve Earth’s global warming woes.

Ideas include using enormous quantities of  floating grains or microbubbles that would reduce the absorption of the Sun’s rays. But it’s far from clear whether the Rube Goldberg schemes are feasible and whether or not they would have the desired environmental effect. Continue reading “Ocean whitening to fight global warming? Scratch that one off the list”


Climate: Another geoengineering scheme bites the dust

What to do about a warming planet?

Ocean heat-exchange pipes would drive more warming in the long run

Staff Report

FRISCO — Trying to mitigate global warming by piping cool water from the depths of the ocean to the surface is probably not the best idea in the long run, a group of Carnegie Institution scientists said this week. In the long run, such a geoengineering scheme would actually lead to more, not less, global warming.

The researchers studied the issue because there have been a variety of proposals that involve using vertical ocean pipes to move seawater to the surface from the depths in order to reap different potential climate benefits. Along with directly mitigating climate change, engineers and scientists have also eyed thermal conversion — using the temperature difference between deeper and shallower water to power a heat engine and produce clean electricity. Continue reading “Climate: Another geoengineering scheme bites the dust”

Climate: Giant space-based mirrors? Probably not

Study finds reducing emissions is the best way to slow global warming

Ever warmer …

Staff Report

FRISCO — In case anyone was thinking that humanity can engineer its way out of the global warming crisis, a new study by scientists with UCLA and other universities has found that the only thing that will really work is a significant reduction greenhouse gas emissions.

Positioning giant mirrors in space to reduce the amount of sunlight being trapped in the earth’s atmosphere or seeding clouds to reduce the amount of light entering earth’s atmosphere are not likely to be effective or practical in slowing global warming. Continue reading “Climate: Giant space-based mirrors? Probably not”

Climate hacking could disrupt monsoons

A classic monsoonal flow of moisture, moving clockwise around a
Geoengineering the climate could disrupt monsoon rainfall in North America and other parts of the world.

Study says geoengineering doesn’t offer a win-win solution

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Trying to hack Earth’s climate by shading the planet could reduce total global precipitation by more than 4 percent, according to researchers with the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The impacts of trying to deflect incoming solar radiation by injecting sulfates into the atmosphere would be most pronounced in seasonal monsoon precipitation. According to the NCAR-led study, monsoonal rains in North America, East Asia, and other regions could be reduced by 5-7 percent compared to preindustrial conditions. Globally, average precipitation could decrease by about 4.5 percent.

“Geoengineering the planet doesn’t cure the problem,” said NCAR scientist Simone Tilmes, lead author of the study. “Even if one of these techniques could keep global temperatures approximately balanced, precipitation would not return to preindustrial conditions.” Continue reading “Climate hacking could disrupt monsoons”

Climate: Study shows possible pitfalls of ‘seeding’ oceans

Stimulating phytoplankton could backfire


By Summit Voice
One of the ideas that has surfaced most often is adding certain types of nutrients to the oceans to stimulate algae production in the hopes of reducing CO2. But new research shows that the law of unintended consequences always applies, perhaps even more so when experimenting with climate on a global scale.

The new study on the feeding habits of ocean microbes shows that the idea could backfire by disturbing the natural balance of ocean chemistry. After carefully studying diatoms, one type of plankton, the scientists determined that it is uses more iron that it needs for photosynthesis and storing the extra in its silica skeletons and shells. This reduces the amount of iron left over to support the carbon-eating plankton.

“Just like someone walking through a buffet line who takes the last two pieces of cake, even though they know they’ll only eat one, they’re hogging the food,” said Ellery Ingall, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and co-lead author on this result.  “Everyone else in line gets nothing; the person’s decision affects these other people.” Continue reading “Climate: Study shows possible pitfalls of ‘seeding’ oceans”

Climate change: scientists ponder cloud brightening

Geoengineering idea floated as a way to slow global warming

Could brightening clouds help slow the march of global warming? Photo courtesy NOAA.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With international efforts to limit heat-trapping greenhouse gases faltering, some scientists say it’s worth at least exploring the concept of creating clouds that might reflect sunlight to counter global warming.

Geoengineering has always had a few proponents, as there are always some people who think that we can engineer our way out of any problem. But many of the ideas floated as possible solutions to global warming are just vague theories at best, with little evidence that they could work.

Now, University of Washington atmospheric physicist Rob Wood describes a possible way to run an experiment to test the concept of cloud brightening on a small scale. His idea is described in a paper published this month in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

Wood makes it clear he’s not advocating for geoengineering, but wants to encourage more scientists to consider the idea of marine cloud brightening and even poke holes in it. Continue reading “Climate change: scientists ponder cloud brightening”

UN biodiversity panel says no to ‘climate hacking’

Geoengineering could pose severe risks to the planet's biodiversity, according to delegates at a global biodiversity conference in Japan.

Futuristic schemes to block solar radiation, and similar measures, should be debated in the UN

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Delegates from the 193-member UN Convention on Biological Diversity will close their 10-day meeting in Japan by considering a de facto moratorium on geoengineering projects and experiments aimed at slowing the pace of global warming.

“Any private or public experimentation or adventurism intended to manipulate the planetary thermostat will be in violation of this carefully crafted UN consensus,” said Silvia Ribeiro, Latin American Director of ETC Group, a nonprofit watchdog group.

Geoengineering refers to large-scale attempts to regulate the planet’s climate with measures like the application of nutrients to the oceans, or futuristic proposals to block a percentage of solar radiation via large-scale interventions in the atmosphere, stratosphere and outer space that would alter global temperatures and precipitation patterns. Continue reading “UN biodiversity panel says no to ‘climate hacking’”