Bulletin of the Atomic ScientiStS
to produce this effect, additional aero-sols from geoengineering would destroyeven more ozone and increase damagingultraviolet flux to Earth’s surface.
4. Effects on plants.
unlight scat-ters as it passes through stratosphericaerosols, reducing direct solar radia-tion and increasing diffuse radiation,with important biological consequences.Some studies, including one that mea-sured this effect in trees following theMount Pinatubo eruption, suggest thatdiffuse radiation allows plant canopiesto photosynthesize more efficiently,thus increasing their capacity as a car-bon sink.
At the same time, insertingaerosols or reflective disks into the at-mosphere would reduce the total sun-light to reach Earth’s surface. Scientistsneed to assess the impacts on crops andnatural vegetation of reductions in total,diffuse, and direct solar radiation.
5. More acid deposition.
If sulfate isinjected regularly into the stratosphere,no matter where on Earth, acid deposi-tion will increase as the material pass-es through the troposphere—the atmo-spheric layer closest to Earth’s surface.In 1977, Russian climatologist MikhailBudyko calculated that the additionalacidity caused by sulfate injections wouldbe negligibly greater than levels that re-sulted from air pollution.
But the rele-vant quantity is the
amount of acidthat reaches the ground, including bothwet (acid rain, snow, and fog) and dry de-position (acidic gases and particles). Anyadditional acid deposition would harmthe ecosystem, and it will be important tounderstand the consequences of exceed-ing different biological thresholds. Fur-thermore, more acidic particles in the tro-posphere would affect public health. Theeffect may not be large compared to theimpact of pollution in urban areas, but inpristine areas it could be significant.
6. Effects of cirrus clouds.
As aerosolparticles injected into the stratospherefall to Earth, they may seed cirrus cloudformations in the troposphere.
Cirrusclouds affect Earth’s radiative balanceof incoming and outgoing heat, althoughthe amplitude and even direction of theeffects are not well understood. Whileevidence exists that some volcanic aero-sols form cirrus clouds, the global effecthas not been quantified.
7. Whitening of the sky (but nicesunsets).
Atmospheric aerosols close tothe size of the wavelength of light producea white, cloudy appearance to the sky.They also contribute to colorful sunsets,similar to those that occur after volcaniceruptions. The red and yellow sky in
by Edvard Munch was inspiredby the brilliant sunsets he witnessed overOslo in 1883, following the eruption of Krakatau in Indonesia.
Both the disap-pearance of blue skies and the appearanceof red sunsets could have strong psycho-logical impacts on humanity.
8. Less sun for solar power.
Scien-tists estimate that as little as a 1.8 percentreduction in incoming solar radiationwould compensate for a doubling of at-mospheric carbon dioxide. Even thissmall reduction would significantly affectthe radiation available for solar powersystems—one of the prime alternatemethods of generating clean energy—as the response of different solar powersystems to total available sunlight is notlinear. This is especially true for someof the most efficiently designed systemsthat reflect or focus direct solar radiationon one location for direct heating.
Fol-lowing the Mount Pinatubo eruption andthe 1982 eruption of El Chichón in Mex-ico, scientists observed a direct solar ra-diation decrease of 25–35 percent.
9. Environmental impacts of im-plementation.
Any system that couldinject aerosols into the stratosphere, i.e.,commercial jetliners with sulfur mixedinto their fuel, 16-inch naval rifles firing1-ton shells of dust vertically into the air,or hoses suspended from stratosphericballoons, would cause enormous envi-ronmental damage. The same could besaid for systems that would deploy sun
capitalizing on carbon
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