'Re-engineering Earth’s atmosphere to reverse the trend of rising global temperatures has long been touted as a potential solution to catastrophic global climate change.
The idea involves spraying reflective sulphites 20km above the surface of the Earth, into the stratosphere, where the particles reflect sunlight back into space, preventing solar energy from warming our planet further.
If effective, the technology, known as stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI), could be used to offset the impacts of our continuing greenhouse gas emissions.
A new study examining only the process of delivering the sulphites to the stratosphere indicates an effective global effort is possible, and would be relatively inexpensive if purpose-built high-altitude aircraft were manufactured.
The study, published today in Environmental Research Letters, focuses on the hypothetical practicalities of a large scale project beginning 15 years from now with the aim of halving the projected increase in man-made temperature rises – also known as anthropogenic radiative forcing.
Dr Gernot Wagner, from Harvard University‘s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, is a co-author of the study. He said: “Solar geoengineering is often described as ‘fast, cheap, and imperfect’.
“While we don’t make any judgement about the desirability of SAI, we do show that a hypothetical deployment program starting 15 years from now, while both highly uncertain and ambitious, would be technically possible strictly from an engineering perspective.
“It would also be remarkably inexpensive, at an average of around $2bn – $2.5bn (£1.5bn – £1.9bn) per year over the first 15 years.”'
Read more: Anti-global warming atmospheric spraying programme ‘possible’, say engineers
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