- Education and Science
Fighting Global Warming By Stratospheric Sulfur Infusions
Geoengineering the upper part of the atmosphere to combat global warming may seem like a weird idea, but it is something which we may go for in the long run.
Adding particles to the stratosphere, upper part of atmosphere, to reflect a small fraction of sunlight, thus slowing, stopping or reversing global warming. The abovementioned notion may be too small to make a significant difference, but would help us in stemming the widespread disease, called global warming.
Sulfate aerosols, fine particles less than a micrometer in diameter, in the stratosphere reflect sunlight, thereby mitigating global warming. Practically this can be realized by aircrafts, which can be used to spray sulfuric acid in the lower part of the stratosphere, the sulfur combines with water vapor to form sulfate aerosols, that will reflect the sunlight, thus assuaging global warming. Wind helps us in dispersing the sulfate aerosols over the globe. This could even offset the bad effects of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. Most of the pollution is caused in the lower part of the atmosphere, by the greenhouse gases. Moreover, the sulfate aerosols stay in the upper part of the atmosphere for decades. The bad effects caused by carbon dioxide, can be partially counteracted by the aerosols in the stratosphere. For instance, Mount Pinatubo, a volcano in Philippines, erupted in 1991, throwing 10 million tons of sulfur into the upper part of the atmosphere, which was able to reduce global warming by 0.5 degrees centigrade. Using this as an evidence, we could spray huge amounts of sulfuric acid into our stratosphere, thereby balancing the bad effects of greenhouse gases on our climate. Experimentally, you would use a helium filled balloon to transport cans of sulfuric acid and water vapor into the stratosphere, to release them.
Although the abovementioned methods could deplete our ozone layer, thereby allowing harmful ultraviolet radiation or even affecting rainfall. Numerous experiments will have to be done to alter the longevity of sulfur particles, by mixing sulfuric acid and water vapor in various proportions, in the stratosphere, so that our ozone layer is least affected, and our precipitation patterns remain unchanged.
© 2017 Rayan Milkton