Geoengineering: a bad idea whose time may come

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:46 PM GMT on December 19, 2008

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Yesterday, at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), climate change scientists discussed the risks and benefits of deliberately altering Earth's climate through "geoengineering". One measure of the concern scientists have about Earth's climate could be gauged by the standing-room only crowd of 200 that packed the presentation room. The eleven speakers at the session laid out some radical and dangerous ideas for deliberately altering Earth's climate. They uniformly cautioned that the uncertainties and dangers of implementing any of these schemes was high, but that geoengineering may be necessary if efforts to control greenhouse gases fail and the climate begins to undergo rapid and destructive changes.

David Keith presented the results of a week-long workshop held earlier this year that brought together ten of the world's experts on geoengineering. He emphasized that even if we stopped emitting CO2 today, the possibility of dangerous climate change capable of causing a "climate emergency" may still be higher than 1%, thanks to the tremendous inertia of the heat stored in the oceans. Of course, we're not going to stop emitting CO2 today. Dealing with a future climate emergency is technically feasible, if we inject large quantities of sulfur into the tropical stratosphere via aircraft, artillery, or tethered balloons with hoses. Sulfur injection into the stratosphere is considered to be the leading candidate for geoengineering, since nature has done this many times via volcanic eruptions, and we have some idea of what to expect. As I reported in a blog post earlier this year, the idea is being championed by Nobel prize-winning atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen.

One problem with injecting sulfur into the stratosphere is that it tends to settle back to the surface in about ten months. A. V. Eliseev explained that in order to keep global temperatures under control in a world with ever-increasing CO2 emissions, we would have to inject an ever increasing amount of sulfur into the atmosphere. His computer model results showed that if a funding lapse occurred in, say, the year 2075, the atmosphere would rapidly warm by 5-9°F (3-5°C) over most of North America, Europe, and Asia, within a decade of cessation of the geoengineering efforts. The resulting shock to ecosystems would be extremely dangerous to civilization.

Richard Turco of UCLA estimated that injecting enough sulfur in the stratosphere to properly geoengineer the climate would require 3000 aircraft sorties per day, and cost $50-$100 billion per year. Model results he presented showed a large amount of uncertainty as to what might happen, and he cautioned that there was "no guarantee of success, and failure would be catastrophic".

A. Robrock of Rutgers disagreed with Dr. Turco, and estimated that the cost of injecting the required amount of sulfur into the stratosphere would by less that $5 billion per year, provided the U.S. military would let scientists use 167 of the existing fleet of 522 F15C Eagle jets to do the job. After all, he reasoned, why wouldn't the military want to use their aircraft to confront our enemy (global warming?) High-altitude fighter jets would be required to do the job, since ordinary jetliners cannot fly high enough to penetrate into the stratosphere. He cautioned that such a fleet of aircraft would have to fly three missions per day, and their exhaust gases would probably cause significant destruction of Earth's protective ozone layer. Furthermore, modeling studies show that we don't know what size particles to make, where to put the sulfur, and what uneven effects the efforts might have on Earth's climate. He concluded, "there are many reasons not to do geoengineering".

A more ecological approach to geoengineering was presented by Phil Rasch of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and by Jim Haywood of Britain's Met Office Hadley Center. They proposed building a fleet of wind-powered ships known as Fletter vessels (Figure 1) that would spray large amounts of sea salt into the air in regions where there are existing stratocumulus clouds. The sea salt would act as nuclei around which moisture could condense, making the clouds more reflective. A fleet of approximately 66 of these vessels would be required to seed the clouds over 30% of the globe, to balance a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide. However, they cautioned that while this solution would be relatively cheap, the technology to implement this scheme would be difficult. Furthermore, studies performed with climate models showed that the resulting climate shift would not be uniform, and many areas would experience drought. In particular, Dr. Haywood showed the possibility of severe drought in the Amazon rain forest and in the Southwest U.S.


Figure 1. A conceptual picture of Flettner spray vessel with Thom fences. These wind-driven vessels have vertical spinning cylinders that use the Magnus effect to produce forces perpendicular to the wind direction. Anton Flettner built a ship using this technology that crossed the Atlantic in 1926. The proposed geoengineering Flettner vessels would sail over ocean regions covered with stratocumulus clouds and make the existing clouds whiter by spraying small salt particles into the air. Image is copyright J. MacNeill 2006. For more information on these vessels, see Salter at al., 2008, "Sea-going hardware for the cloud albedo method of reversing global warming", Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society A, 366, Number 1882, pp3989-4006, 13 November 2008.

Katharine Ricke of Carnagie Mellon University cautioned that the foreign policy community has virtually no awareness of geoengineering issues, and would be totally unprepared for the possibility of some country deciding to unilaterally attempt a geoengineering program on their own. She suggested that an effort needs to be made to promote international agreements on geoengineering, perhaps including binding treaties.

Jeff Masters

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233. Skyepony (Mod)
TheSheperd~ I could have worded that better. The larger AG areas in FL, our black gold, is mostly very low seas level lands of SFL around Lake O. Much is already protected by dikes & leeves. The east coast citrus sits low too.

I think sea level is where the numbers are one of the scetchiest. The ice wasn't expected to melt so quick. It already looks like the IPCC was wrong on it's 100 year projections they put out last year, as in too low. Unforchanately one of the most important effects is one of the hardest to forecast.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pangean:
"What fine representatives of manhood you both represent."

Seriously, this is your idea of intelligent discourse? I've heard more intelligent comebacks from 12 year olds in the school yard.
Yeah. And if a frog had wings he wouldn't bump his little waterproof butt every time he landed.
What we have here is your cowardly discourse to insult women. Those "big thick books with no pictures in them" speak volumes as to what it takes for a man to openly insult a women behind the skirts of "mommy cyberspace" and then insult a grown man behind the same cowardly shield. Man up little man. Pick on a woman your own size.
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Kori. Well said.
You actually are living, what all religion teaches.
As for me, I have a difficulty, choosing one faith over another.
All are relevant. Its the fanatical view, with exclusion of other views, that gives me a headache.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24265
Doing well KM, and thanks. Just been busy with the new baby :~)
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Quoting pottery:
Was not much of a debate, Kori.
You may have been able to lift the tone.


Perhaps. Even though I'm atheistic, I don't carry the reputation you or others might think. In fact, I consider myself to be a nice atheist. I'm kind, considerate of others, and most importantly, can tolerate and understand viewpoints that differ from mine. Indeed, I can always sympathize with those viewpoints, as well. That's what's important, IMO. Regardless of our different viewpoints and worldviews, we as human beings have the responsibility to understand the opposing side, even if we disagree with them.

Oh, and evening SJ. Hope all is well.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 573 Comments: 20455
Pangean. I have removed the "ignore", simply because I am always interested in people's comments, on all subjects.
I have to say, though, that your foolish remark to Gamma was one of the low points on the blog, for a long time.
You could possibly correct that, but I dont see how.......
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24265
Quoting pottery:
Was not much of a debate, Kori.
You may have been able to lift the tone.


Problem is both sides are clearly too entrenched to truly engage in the give and take of a lively discussion on this topic.
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Quoting moonlightcowboy:
Geoengineering? LMAO - like little, feeble people can actually mold the continuity of this earth which has survived for millions of years without man's "so-called" wisdom! Some really think they're just too special, too smart.


Great leaps have been made by mankind by simply asking the question. For example, who would have thought that mold could save people from disease?

Nothing wrong with asking the question. Doesn't necessarily mean that we'll see geoengineering gizmos circumnavigating the globe.
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Evening all, hope everyone is well and ready for the holidays!

Rainman just got in to Houston and is driving out to Beaumont shortly. Webcam & chat are up and running Tomorrow evening will be the Christmas party for bridge City.
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224. GBlet
Damn shame a weather blog has to have a babysitter. By the way, someone needs to tell Orca to get that door fixed! I don't like it when it's 3 degrees! Cold Front rolling in later and it's gonna be a bbbrrrrrrrrr.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Was not much of a debate, Kori.
You may have been able to lift the tone.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24265
"You are the very first person, in several years, that I have chosen to "ignore"."

Quite the compliment coming from you, Potty. But, of course, you won't see this comment. C'est la vie
.
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Wow, a religious debate on wunderground? Something I never thought I'd see... I'm very interested in theological discussions in spite of being an atheist, so I wish I would've been on here earlier, when the debate started. :(
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 573 Comments: 20455
No avocados until July, at the earliest.
Sigh....
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24265
219. beell
Ah,don't worry about pangean. He is only using his God-given inalieanable rights to say what he thinks.

LOL I think!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Pangean. Your recent posts have demonstrated that you are a Master of using the objectionable to attempt to score cheap points. You have shown no ability in the art of discourse.
You are the very first person, in several years, that I have chosen to "ignore".
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24265
Quoting pottery:
Cot, wet season officially ends Dec. But it can continue raining to March, like this year did.
The problem in the City and environs is too much building on hillsides. Removed the forest, paved with concrete, asphalt and roof-sheeting.
The rainfall has not increased, the run-off has become the issue.


Iccck. Well, hope it subsides soon. When will it be time for avocados?

Guacamole goooood...
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
Cot, wet season officially ends Dec. But it can continue raining to March, like this year did.
The problem in the City and environs is too much building on hillsides. Removed the forest, paved with concrete, asphalt and roof-sheeting.
The rainfall has not increased, the run-off has become the issue.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24265
"What fine representatives of manhood you both represent."

Seriously, this is your idea of intelligent discourse? I've heard more intelligent comebacks from 12 year olds in the school yard.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pottery:
Trinidad weather--
Heavy rains over the past few days have resulted in flooding in the valleys around the capital city, Port-of-Spain.
Cars have been washed away, damage to property and roads/bridges have also occured. No injuries or loss of life have been reported, since last Tues. when a death was the result of a mudslide.
The weather remains unsettled, and more rain is in the forecast.


Ack, not good. :( Glad to hear that injuries and fatalities have been kept to a minimum.

Is it the 'wet season' over there?
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
Xmas Glitter trumps Idiocy every time,..




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Pangean and DDR
What fine representatives of manhood you both represent. Mommy cyber space protects you well and your opportunities to insult women and men further than arms length.
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"Go ahead and slam me with your cowardly genius and hide behind your "mommy cyber space". Never will you say these things to my face.Never!!!"

Dude, you have way too much testosterone flowing there. You were just being too clever for your own good and I put you in your place. No need to threaten violence.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Trinidad weather--
Heavy rains over the past few days have resulted in flooding in the valleys around the capital city, Port-of-Spain.
Cars have been washed away, damage to property and roads/bridges have also occured. No injuries or loss of life have been reported, since last Tues. when a death was the result of a mudslide.
The weather remains unsettled, and more rain is in the forecast.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24265
209. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
TROPICAL CYCLONE ADVICE NUMBER 18
Issued by the BUREAU OF METEOROLOGY, DARWIN
8:00 am ACST December 20 2008
=====================================

Immediate Tropical Cyclone Advice

A Cyclone WARNING continues for coastal and island areas from Mitchell Plateau in Western Australia to Port Keats in the Northern Territory.

A Cyclone WATCH continues for coastal and island areas from Cockatoo Island to Mitchell Plateau.

At 6:30 am Ausralia CST, Tropical Cyclone Billy, Category Two [987 hPa] located at 14.9S 128.0E or 65 kilometres north northwest of Wyndham and 180 kilometres west southwest of Port Keats has 10 minute sustained winds of 50 knots with gusts of 70 knot. The cyclone is reported as moving west southwest at 7 kilometres per hour.

The destructive core of Tropical Cyclone Billy is currently crossing the coast north of Wyndham.

DESTRUCTIVE WINDS with gusts to 130 kilometres per hour currently being experienced within 25 kilometres of the cyclone centre will extend further inland during the morning and weaken.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 50 Comments: 45240
Not sure if it's NHSAD affecting some... (No Hurricane Season Affective Disorder) but those that may be are... a bit of treatment:



Gotta admit, that's a textbook lookin' typhoon.

Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
Quoting AstroHurricane001:

How exactly do you use the ignore and ban features? Where can you view an ignore list? Sorry my account is only less than 4 months old and I'm just wondering.


Link

Beneath each comment there is a button titled 'Ignore User', as well.

Hope that answers your query. :)
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
Quoting moonlightcowboy:
Gamms, please, ignore the morons. Use the ignore and ban features. Apparently, admin is only lax when it fits their mission statement (whatever that is!)

How exactly do you use the ignore and ban features? Where can you view an ignore list? Sorry my account is only less than 4 months old and I'm just wondering.
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2835
It increasingly disturbs me that the values that made this country great have also allowed for the venue of juvenile remarks and attacks upon the same age groups that gave them the right to make such remarks.
Insulting fellow citizens through cyber space that disagree and making naughty little remarks without man to man confrontation is the height of cowardice. You all know who you are. And cowards you all shall remain. Some call you trolls, others call you cowards.
So go ahead, beat up on our fine citizens like gamma. What can she do about it? Some of us, and you know who we are, await the moment to met you in person.
Go ahead and slam me with your cowardly genius and hide behind your "mommy cyber space". Never will you say these things to my face.Never!!!
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me too... some really good people here, just have to put up with those that want to fight all of the time if you want to be here .
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 298 Comments: 40899
Quoting seflagamma:
Hi cowboy, I know why I usually do not hang out here anymore.. I will carefully follow you out of this blog and hope I don't step into a pile of it on way out.




There ya go, Gamms! Much better blogs and folks with whom to commune.

(No offense Pottery, Cotillion - I like you just fine!)
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
Gamms, please, ignore the morons. Use the ignore and ban features. Apparently, admin is only lax when it fits their mission statement (whatever that is!)
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
Hi cowboy, I know why I usually do not hang out here anymore.. I will carefully follow you out of this blog and hope I don't step into a pile of it on way out.

Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 298 Comments: 40899
199. tb1
Who said God's Day was 24 hours long. I don't know any who was there or that it says 24 hours in the Bible
Quoting pangean:
"funny, some can agree to disagree and allow someone else to state their beliefs with respect.. and some have to resort to name calling....pity #161"

Gamma, you better hope the body holds up 'cause you ain't got much going for you in the brains department. Maybe you can provide some solid scientific evidence that there is a god and he created the world in 7 days. I know that I can provide an veritable cornucopia of evidence that our existence is a result of evolution. Creationism most certainly not science, no matter how much you choose to deceive yourself.
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Quoting pangean:
"One can say it takes more faith to believe in evolution than it does in God creating the world in 7 days."

Only if one is ignorant.


The above quote was making fun of Tornado in post #157. I never got involved in the God debate here I just found it offensive that pagean would attack Tornado so I posted this.

Quoting seflagamma:
funny, some can agree to disagree and allow someone else to state their beliefs with respect.. and some have to resort to name calling....pity #161


that is not an attack; just a request to respect other's opinion and to disagree nicely.

then I got blasted by Pagean about my physical and mental abilities and was brought into a debate about which I never contributed.
This whole mess has evolved and the non believers have come out in full force.

Get it straight, Gamma did not start a God vs Science debate here... you assumed I did because I stuck up for someone else's comment.

Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 298 Comments: 40899
MLC, in defense of this blog. The past couple of days were filled with good, pertinent discussion.
Within the last hour or so, things have degenerated fast.
So it goes........
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24265
A few decent folk left yet, MLC. ;)
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
LOL, I see this blog continues to sink in the mud - full of heavy, mindless attitudes, heartless spirit, and full of omniscient arrogance.

Geoengineering? LMAO - like little, feeble people can actually mold the continuity of this earth which has survived for millions of years without man's "so-called" wisdom! Some really think they're just too special, too smart.

Trips to the dentist are more entertaining and fulfilling than the laxative parading around in this blog.

Enjoy the circus, everyone! Oh, and watch where you step! ;)
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
About geoengineering: no solution to GW is perfect. All have their challenges, disadvantages, and complications. Yet any adequate solution to climate change may prove to be nessecary.
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2835
More severe gales and hurricane-force gales accompanied with torrential raining hitting Britain...

Scotland getting the worst this time...

BBC: Link

Torrential rain has been causing problems in many parts of Scotland.

Four people were rescued from vehicles engulfed in "waist high" flood water in Greenock. An elderly disabled man was taken to hospital for treatment.

Police in the south of Scotland warned motorists to take care in "horrendous driving conditions" across the region.

Meanwhile, Central Scotland Police said torrential rain had caused many of the area's main routes to become flooded or blocked with stranded cars.

Every road in and out of Falkirk was blocked and Central Scotland Fire and Rescue Service said they were dealing with numerous calls regarding flooding in the Falkirk, Denny and Larbert areas.

The vehicles in Greenock were caught in rising flood water in the town's Cumberland Road and Westmorland Road at about 1420 GMT.

A spokeswoman for the fire service said the incidents had now been dealt with, but the emergency services would remain at the scene for some time.

Richard Duncan, group commander with Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, said the disabled man who had been rescued had been in fear for his life.

"We were called out to a flooding incident where we had reports of a gentleman trapped in his vehicle up to waist height," he said.

"The gentleman was extremely upset and was quite concerned that he wasn't going to be able to get out.

"We managed to calm him down and, using specialist personal protection equipment, manhandle him out of the vehicle and hand him over to the Scottish Ambulance Service."

Mr Duncan said fire crews had dealt with around nine incidents in Paisley, Port Glasgow, Greenock and Houston in which people had to be rescued from their vehicles by boat.

This included a woman and her young child who were stuck in a car for two hours as water levels began to rise.

In the Inverclyde area, firefighters were called to 19 reports of problems caused by flooding.

Mr Duncan said no-one had been seriously injured as a result of the flooding and they had no reports of flooding in any properties.

He added that the rain had subsided and they were not anticipating any major problems overnight.

Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary said the A76 road was closed between Kelloholm and Kirkconnel because of the flooding and there were also problems on the A74.
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
"Where did the matter come from oh ancient one? "

Where did god come from? It's rather idiotic to argue that we have to invoke a god because science hasn't come up with the explanation yet. You seem like a real Medieval kind of guy. Name fits, I must say.
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190. DDR
Quoting theshepherd:
OK Genius...E=mc2.
Eienstien proved the existance of God. Would you agree that time had to begin to exist? For energy to exist, matter must move? Without matter there is nothing to move? Where did the matter come from oh ancient one? Without devine intervention there is no other "scientific" explanation.Show me...

Here's a simple question for you,
Where did this divine creator come from?
And if you say it always existed then why didnt it create the universe 100 billion or a trillion years ago.
If the divine made the earth why is the interior molten rock?
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currently 72 degrees at my house, after a high this afternoon of 81. pretty nice December day down here in SE Florida.
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 298 Comments: 40899
We had seven inches of snow in just one day today. Two-foot high drifts!
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2835
Quoting pangean:
"funny, some can agree to disagree and allow someone else to state their beliefs with respect.. and some have to resort to name calling....pity #161"

Gamma, you better hope the body holds up 'cause you ain't got much going for you in the brains department. Maybe you can provide some solid scientific evidence that there is a god and he created the world in 7 days. I know that I can provide an veritable cornucopia of evidence that our existence is a result of evolution. Creationism most certainly not science, no matter how much you choose to deceive yourself.
OK Genius...E=mc2.
Eienstien proved the existance of God. Would you agree that time had to begin to exist? For energy to exist, matter must move? Without matter there is nothing to move? Where did the matter come from oh ancient one? Without devine intervention there is no other "scientific" explanation.Show me...
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186. DDR
Hey pottery,how's the weather on your side.
I Got 3.25 inches in the past couple days.
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Please refrain from personal attacks. Thank you.
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2835
""Sorry .... I see him everyday"

What's he look like?
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OOohh, an Iggy in the winter thats a rare site.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23938

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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