The rise and rise of geoengineering - July 25
Click on the headline (link) for the full text. Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage
Dumping iron at sea can bury carbon for centuries, study shows
Damian Carrington, The Guardian
Dumping iron into the sea can bury carbon dioxide for centuries, potentially helping reduce the impact of climate change, according to a major new study. The work shows for the first time that much of the algae that blooms when iron filings are added dies and falls into the deep ocean.
Geoengineering – technologies aimed at alleviating global warming – are controversial, with critics warning of unintended environmental side effects or encouraging complacency in global deals to cut carbon emissions. But Prof Victor Smetacek, at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany, who led the new research, said: "The time has come to differentiate: some geoengineering techniques are more dangerous than others. Doing nothing is probably the worst option."
Dave Reay, senior lecturer in carbon management at the University of Edinburgh, said: "This represents a whole new ball game in terms of iron fertilisation as a geoengineering technique. Maybe deliberate enhancement of carbon storage in the oceans has more legs than we thought but, as the scientists themselves acknowledge, it's still far too early to run with it."...
(18 July 2012)
Link to Geoengineering projects around the world - map
US geoengineers to spray sun-reflecting chemicals from balloon
Martin Lukacs, The Guardian
Two Harvard engineers are to spray sun-reflecting chemical particles into the atmosphere to artificially cool the planet, using a balloon flying 80,000 feet over Fort Sumner, New Mexico.
The field experiment in solar geoengineering aims to ultimately create a technology to replicate the observed effects of volcanoes that spew sulphates into the stratosphere, using sulphate aerosols to bounce sunlight back to space and decrease the temperature of the Earth.
David Keith, one of the investigators, has argued that solar geoengineering could be an inexpensive method to slow down global warming, but other scientists warn that it could have unpredictable, disastrous consequences for the Earth's weather systems and food supplies. Environmental groups fear that the push to make geoengineering a "plan B" for climate change will undermine efforts to reduce carbon emissions...
(17 July 2012)
Trial Balloon: A Tiny Geoengineering Experiment
Henry Fountain, New York Times
Two Harvard professors said Tuesday they were developing a proposal for what would be a first-of-its-kind field experiment to test the risks and effectiveness of a geoengineering technology for intervening in the earth’s climate.
The experiment, which would be conducted from a balloon launched from a NASA facility in New Mexico, would involve putting “micro” amounts of sulfate particles into the air with the goal of learning how they combine with water vapor and affect atmospheric ozone.
The researchers, James G. Anderson, a professor of atmospheric chemistry, and David W. Keith, whose field is applied physics, said the amounts involved would be so small that they would have no effect on climate — locally, regionally or globally. “This is an experiment that is completely nonintrusive,” Dr. Anderson said.
(His remarks contradicted a report in The Guardian that the experiment would involve spraying tens or hundreds of pounds of “sun-reflecting chemical particles into the atmosphere to artificially cool the planet.”)...
(17 July 2012)
Geoengineering Could Backfire, Make Climate Change Worse
Joel Winston, Wired UK
Deploying giant space mirrors and spraying particles from stadium-sized balloons may sound like an engineer’s wild fantasy, but climate models suggest that the potential of geoengineering to offset rising atmospheric carbon dioxide may be significantly overstated.
Through a variety of computer simulations used for reporting to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the team investigated a scenario where an increase in the world’s atmospheric carbon dioxide levels was balanced by a “dimming” of the sun.
Across all four models tested, the team showed that geoengineering could lead to adverse effects on the Earth’s climate, including a reduction in global rainfall. They therefore concluded that geoengineering could not be a substitute for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions...
(16 July 2012)