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The first sunlight experiment will test a way to cool the soil

Zhen Dai, Frank Keutsch and David Keith

Frank Keutsch, Zhen Dai and David Keith (left to right) Keutschen Laboratory at Harvard University.Credit: Kayana Szymczak Nature

Zhen Dai maintains a small glass coated glass with a white powder: a composition that is used for calcium carbonate, paper, and cement to mix pasta and pasta. Plop is a stomach tablet and the result is an anti-fizzy that causes stomach damage. Dai, PhD candidate at the Harvard University of Cambridge, and its colleagues, whether it is harmful substance, can also help alleviate the last case of indigestion: global warming caused by greenhouse gas pollution.

The idea is simple: it releases a series of particles into the stratosphere and the planet will freeze some rays of the sun reflected in space. Scientists have already acted on the principle. The Pinatubo Mountain, in 1991, when the eruption in the Philippines was injected, approximately 20 million tons of sugar dioxide was injected into the stratosphere. Atmospheric layer about 10 and 50 km above the Earth. The eruption cools the planet with a sulfate particles that created about 0.5 ° C. About 18 months ago, the average Earth's temperature became before the steam engine arrived.

The idea that humans can raise the Earth's thermostat through ancient and artificial avenues is an old decade. It includes a broader class of cooling systems in the planet, a long-standing debate and, in some cases, fierce geoengineering.

Researchers have largely limited their tactics to computer models. Among the worries, sun destroying robs the sun's crops and changing rain patterns, or at least some disadvantages in some parts of the world, for example.

But emissions continue to rise and climate projections remain, as geoengine research interviews are getting more scientists, politicians and environmental traction. For this reason, many researchers have had a drastic effect on avoiding the serious effects of global warming, excluding massive carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere or artificially cooling the planet. Or perhaps maybe both.

If the plan is planned, the Harvard team will include the first global solar geo-chemical laboratory and stratosphere. This process allows the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx) project. First phase – A test of US $ 3 million, two flights of a flight driver, over 20 kilometers of southwestern United States, could be launched in the first half of 2019. Once in place, the experiments will be released from small calcium carbonate plumes, equivalent to the amount found in the average bottled bottle approximately 100 grams per 100 grams. It would light the balloon to observe how the particles are divided.

The same test is very modest. Dai, PhD has been working on a tablet device for the last four years to simulate and measure chemical reactions in the stratosphere prior to the experiment, it does not concern the research. "I am studying a chemical substance," he says. "It's not like a nuclear bomb."

However, the experiment will fly under the geoengineering sun banner. In this way, they also pay close attention to some environmental groups, for example, the risk of mixing a unique sustainable solution to climate change: reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The scientific outcome of SCoPEx does not really matter, says Jim Thomas, Executive Director of ETC Group, Val-David Environmental Awareness Center near Montreal, Canada, which deals with geoengine: "This is an experiment with social norms changing and crossing a line because it is a science experiment ".

Regardless of this attention, the group is slowly moving and is working to set up a clear supervision of the experiment with the external advisory committee to review the project. Some say this area, making it easier for future experimenting to be easier than the results of this test. "It's the first of the SCoPEx gateway, and it starts an important dialogue about independent guidance, advice and supervision," says Peter Frumhoff, chief of climate scientists at the Cambridge, Massachusetts Scientific Partnership. Panel member of an independent panel elected by the board advisor committee. "Achieving achievement is very important rather than doing fast."

Joining forces

In many ways, the stratosphere is a great place to try to reflect the atmosphere. Here injected small particles can spread throughout the world and may be two or more years. If they are strategically and regularly placed in both hemispheres, they can create a quite uniform blanket that they should protect the entire planet (see "Global intervention & # 39;"). The process must not be expensive; Last month, in a report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggested that large-scale fleets of aircrafts might suffice to spend enough to ditch 1.5 ° C in annual $ 1 million to $ 10 million a year1.

Paul Jackman /Nature

Most solar geoengineering research has, to date, had sulfur dioxide, the same substance that harms the Pinatubo Mountains. But sulfur may not be the best candidate. In addition to the cooling of the planet, the aerosol produced in this eruption causes chlorofluorocarbons to deteriorate the ozone layer, which protects the planet from the ultraviolet radiation of the sun. The sulphate aerosol also heats up the sun, can cause enough moisture movement and the jet stream also changes. "We do not fully understand these effects," says chemist Frank Keutsche, Harvard and SCoPEx, leading atmospheric chemists.

The initial stratospheric experiment of the SCoPEx team will be calcium carbonate to absorb less heat than sulfates and cause less ozone. But textbook responses – and Dai's tablet devices – can not capture the whole image. "We do not know what he will do, because he does not exist in the stratosphere," says Keutsche. "That's not the red flag."

SCoPEx has the goal of collecting real-world data. Experience at the Harvard atmospheric chemist began working with James Anderson and experimental physicist David Keith, who moved to college in 2011. Keith has investigated a variety of geochemical possibilities over 25 years ago. In 2009, at the University of Calgary University of California, he created Carbony Engineering in Squamish, and is launching carbon-dioxide-charging technology from the atmosphere. Upon entering Harvard, Keith used the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to research the experiment in Seattle, Washington, to research the experiment.

Keutsch later participated, is not one of the climate sciences, and the geoengineer is reluctant. But he is concerned about what is on the way to humanity, and means the child's future. When Keith talked about the idea of ​​SCoPEx in Harvard, when he started in 2015, his initial reaction was "completely". Then he decided to spend time. "I asked myself, the chemist in the atmosphere, what can I do?" He joined Keith and Anderson and worked in experimental work.

The sky is an eye

Already, SCoPEx has advanced ahead of previous efforts made by solar geo. Experimental air conditioning in experimental UK climate particulate injection, which attempted to pour 1 km of water into the atmosphere, was abandoned in 2012 by scientists who eventually claimed patents at any of the planet's human agents. (Keith says that the technologies involved in the SCoPEx project will not be patented.) And researchers from the United States, who investigate the Marine Cloud Brightening Project, have not only increased the flow of ocean rain flows in the atmosphere but also about ten years of raising money.

Environmental field chamber to test the tools used in the SCoPEx field mission

To test the tools used in the environmental chamber in the SCoPEx field mission.Credit: Kayana Szymczak Nature

Although SCoPEx may be the first time to experience solar geoengineering, Keith says they have no other data. In 2011, for example, the Eastern Pacific Emeritization Aerosol Cloud Phase has contaminated the smoke from the lower atmosphere contamination to imitate the pollution of the vessels, which illuminates clouds to collect more water vapors. It was tested to analyze the impact on marine clouds, but the results were directly influenced by science geoengineering in science: bright clouds were 50 times greater than the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide emissions by researchers' cooling effect2.

Keith says Harvard has not yet had a public protest or any direct discovery, not just in the conservative theory. The challenge of the researchers, fearing that the science finance company is investing in geo, will cause environmental protests.

In order to advance the field, Keithe set the goal in 2016 to fund 20 million euros, to support an experimental research program, not just experimental work, but also modeling, governance and ethics. It has raised about $ 12 million so far, especially the Gates Foundation and other philanthropists; The pot can help dozens of people, especially in part time.

Keith and Keutsch also want an external advisory committee to review SCoPEx before flying. The nominee electing the board still has to report to the Harvard research department and the Harvard research community. "We see this as part of a process of further research on this issue," says Keith.

Keutsch hopes to be led by the outsider and hopes to make clear how to continue his trials. "This is much more politically challenging than expected," he says. "I was a little naive."

SCoPEx also meets the technical challenges. Spray particle of good measurements: the team has a diameter of 0.5 mm in diameter and must reflect the sunlight. The balloon must also change his career in the air to pass his wake. The group is supposed to find a calcium carbonate pen and there is no warranty between them. SCoPEx needs tools to study particles, and it might be expected to take samples of Earth.

"It will be a tough experiment, and it may not work," says David Fahey, an atmospheric scientist at the Boulder, Colorado Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Fahey's team has provided SCOPEx with the regulatory instrument for SCOPEx to measure the extent and number of affected particles reliably. The balloon will also have a laser device to monitor remote monitors. Wetlands and stratosphere ozone levels can also be used to fly over the globe.


Keutsch and Keith are still working on some technical details. The company's plans for the balloon have dropped, so they are working on the second job. An independent California engineer team works on sprayer opportunities. To simplify things, the SCoPEx team invites you to fly to the balloon in the spring or autumn, when the stratospheric winds move toward the direction and, in a short period of time, they keep quiet feathers.

For these reasons, Keutsch defines the first flight as a characterization engine, above all to show how well everything works. The group is prepared to prepare calcium carbonate through particles, but instead, salt water should be used to test the discharge, if the advice committee is an object.

Keith still believes sulfate is aerosols that could ultimately be the best option for the geochemical sun, although they have more impact studies. The sulfate could improve the ocean's depletion as a result of the future, following efforts to recover ozone layer. However, his main hope is to establish an experimental program to analyze the different aspects of the geoengineering of the solar scientists.

The questions are remarkable. Some researchers have suggested that solar geo-engineering may change rainfall patterns and may lead to drought in some regions. Others warn that one of the most beneficial benefits of solar geoengineering – maintaining crop yields by protecting the heat of stress – may not be there. In the study published in August, they found corn (corn), soybeans, rice and wheat yields3 After falling two volcanic eruptions, the Pinatubo mountain in 1991 and El Chichón in Mexico in 1982, the skies were darkened. Such restrictions may be invalidating any potential profits in the future.

Keithe says science suggests so far that the benefits may have negative consequences, especially when heating does not control the world it controls. The usual disadvantage of protecting the sun is not causing emissions, so the greenhouse gases would increase and the ocean would rise further. But it suggests that solar geoengineering can reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, minimizing loss of permafrost, boosting forest growth and reducing the need for cooling of buildings. As a result of precipitation and temperatures, using a high-resolution climate model, Keithe and others utilize almost all the regions of the world to take advantage of the moderate sun from the sun geos. "Despite worries, we can not be definitely worse". "If solar geo-engineering is shown through these models, it will not be taken seriously if you are mad."

There is also uncertainty about the hypothesis about the state of affairs and the model, so that humanity can unite together, the geoengine program is well designed, maintained and then dismantled, addressing the underlying issue. Still, prominent organizations, the UK Royal Association, and the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medical United States have asked for more research. In October, academies launched a project to launch a project.

Some organizations are trying to promote international non-governmental politicians and government disputes. The Government of the Sun Radiation Management Initiative is working on the South, for example. And Janos Pasztor, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who manages climate issues, senior officials from all over the world spoke of Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative, according to a non-profit organization. New York. "Governments must debate and understand these issues," says Pasztor. "They have to understand the risks – not just risks, but also the risks of understanding and not knowing".

It is worrying that one day the government's effects on global warming and an unreal solar geoengineering program is a different option, the costs may be cheap in many countries, and perhaps only for some individuals. In Quito, Ecuador, this month, and other questions emerged, in the annual Montreal Protocol, which regulates the chemical stratospheric ozone layer. Some countries require a scientific evaluation of the potential effects of solar geoengineering on the ozone layer and at the stratosphere.

If world-wide geoengineering is serious, Fahey says that satellites and airplanes have sophisticated experiments. But for now, he says, SCoPEx will be valuable because it encourages dialogue. "Talking about geoengine is not a moment when we can make mistakes".

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