Groundbreaking new research suggests that we might be able to limit the effects of global warming through aerosols.
With concern about global warming caused about climate change continuing to rise and fewer and fewer options to do something about it, scientists are proposing a radical new solution. Experts say we should study the next major global volcanic eruption to learn about spreading aerosols to reflect sunlight back into space and cool the planet.
Volcanoes spew a huge amount of rock and ash when they blow, and that mixes with water vapor to form aerosols, which acts as a giant reflector that keeps light from entering the Earth’s atmosphere. During the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines nearly 30 years ago, global temperatures plunge by nearly a full degree Fahrenheit for about two years.
As a result, scientists believe they can study the effects of the next volcanic eruption to determine the feasibility of actions like spreading aerosols in the sky via jet planes or other methods in order to counteract the effects of global warming.
“The volcanic eruptions of El Chichón and Pinatubo injected enough sulfate aerosol into the stratosphere to decrease temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere for 1 to 3 years by several tenths of a degree Celsius,” reads a 2007 NASA paper on the subject of managing solar radiation. “Repeating the aerosol injections and optimizing them for cooling could amplify the impacts on global temperatures. Further research could assess whether this approach could safely counter the significant increases in temperature that could occur by 2100 if anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated. Research could determine, for example, whether injections of sulfates or other materials into the stratosphere could diminish cooling in the Arctic region, an area of seemingly high vulnerability to climate change.”