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Upcoming Seminars



Title:

Stratospheric Sulfur Geoengineering – Benefits and Risks

Speaker: Alan Robock
Dr. Alan Robock is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, both in Meteorology. Before graduate school, he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines. Prior to becoming faculty at Rutgers, he was a professor at the University of Maryland and the State Climatologist of Maryland. He recently served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, which operates the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Prof. Robock's areas of expertise include the climate effects of volcanic eruptions and nuclear war. His work on the potential humanitarian impacts nuclear war contributed to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 “for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its groundbreaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons”.
Date/Time: Monday, July 29, 2019 11:00 AM
Location: David Skaggs Research Center, GC402 (multi-purpose room)
Abstract

Geoengineering, also called climate engineering or climate intervention, has been proposed as a “solution” to global warming, involving “solar radiation management” by injecting particles into the stratosphere, brightening clouds, or blocking sunlight with satellites between the Sun and Earth. While volcanic eruptions have been suggested as innocuous examples of sulfate stratospheric aerosols cooling the planet, the volcano analog actually illustrates many potential risks of stratospheric geoengineering, including of ozone depletion and regional hydrologic responses. No such systems to conduct stratospheric geoengineering now exist, but the least expensive option would probably be to invent airplanes that could put sulfur gases into the stratosphere. Nevertheless, it may be very difficult to create stratospheric sulfate particles with a desirable size distribution.

Our Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project, conducting climate model experiments with standard stratospheric aerosol injection scenarios, is ongoing. We have found that if there were a way to continuously inject SO2 into the lower stratosphere, it would produce global cooling, stopping melting of the ice caps, and increasing the uptake of CO2 by plants. But there are at least 27 reasons why stratospheric geoengineering may be a bad idea. These include disruption of the Asian and African summer monsoons, reducing precipitation to the food supply for billions of people; ozone depletion; no more blue skies; reduction of solar power; and rapid global warming if it stops, with devastating impacts on natural ecosystems. Furthermore, there are concerns about commercial or military control, and it may seriously degrade terrestrial astronomy and satellite remote sensing. Global efforts to stop anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (mitigation) and to adapt to climate change are needed no matter what, if we choose to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Whether implementation of stratospheric geoengineering would be make the situation more dangerous needs to be answered by ongoing research.



Title:

Speaker: Gijs de Boer
Date/Time: Wednesday, August 28, 2019 11:00 AM
Location: David Skaggs Research Center, GC402 (multi-purpose room)
Abstract


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