The Indian Wire » Environment » Solar Radiation Management, limiting the incoming Sun’s rays: A gain or pain in disguise

Solar Radiation Management, limiting the incoming Sun’s rays: A gain or pain in disguise

Sun is indeed the prime source of energy and thereby light for Earth and other planets in its aura.

Sustaining food chains by fueling Photosynthesis, emitting heat and warmth to beings, changing weather patterns etc are a few prominent functions it gives a life to.
It never ceases to drive the biological and physical processes involved in the balancing by Mother Nature- in oceans and on land.

With Atmospheric blanket filtering a part of it and some radiation being reflected back, the Insolation by Sun impacts the Earth in unimaginable ways. It’s mere trapping by the greenhouse gases of Earth, has bothered the entire world and brought it on its toes.

It has been revealed that the rate of energy coming from the Sun changes slightly day to day. It has been suggested that changes in solar output might affect our climate—both directly, by changing the rate of solar heating of the Earth and atmosphere, and indirectly, by changing cloud forming processes.

Sounds interesting. This will instantly prompt anyone to think what if we are able to interfere and send a few more radiation’s back?

Climate is known to change since time immemorial what worries the Climate experts is the faster rate at which the change is happening since recent decades.

In its Fifth Assessment Report, IPCC scientists evaluated simulations of historical climate variables using a number of numerical models.

So thinking for every possibility of at least slowing this logarithmic climate change is need of the hour.
Here Solar Radiation Management becomes a desperate option.

Solar Radiation Management(SRM)
Also known as Solar Geoengineering
A suite of proposed technologies(broader class of planet-cooling schemes) that aim to reflect sunlight back into space before it warms the earth’s climate.

It can be achieved by:
1. Spraying sulphur dioxide or hydrogen sulphide into the stratosphere (the upper reaches of the atmosphere), something learnt from Mount Pinatubo
2. Launching a barrier into heliosynchronous orbit
3. Making the Albedo(reflectivity) of clouds
4. Launching billions of reflective balloons into the stratosphere(and wonder into the beauty of it)

The Harvard team(as planned) may be the first in the world to move solar geoengineering out of the lab and into the stratosphere, with a project called the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx) two flight carrying a steerable balloon. For details:

But the challenges and complexities of this technology inhibits the very implementation of Solar Geoengineering.

If we assume that aerosol release(as in first method) was used to fully offset the global warming caused by a doubling of CO2 levels, it could be “over-effective” and cause some regions to face increased rainfall or drought.

Controlling the ‘global thermostat does not fall easy. significantly change extratropical storm tracks — the zones in the middle and high latitudes where storms form year-round and are steered by the jet stream across the oceans and land. Weakened storm tracks would mean less powerful winter storms that drives the weather in few countries.

There have also been signs that intentionally reducing solar radiation would shrink the temperature difference between the Earth’s equator and poles.

After all this form of study is still in the speculation phase using computer simulations.

It comes with serious ethical and social concerns.

One is, if the technology were to be developed, it could be perceived as a “quick fix” to the climate crisis, leading to countries stalling on their commitments to cutting their greenhouse gas emissions or maybe they can stop Green tax or their share in the Green fund.
Another social concern is that the technology could be misused by single actors or states with malicious intentions, pointed out by Carnegie.

We need to remember that Nature is a resource available to all of its residents. Let’s ensure that the solution is inclusive of all and acts as a solution rather than a new problem altogether.

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