Study says refreezing the poles would be ‘possible and cheap’

Scientists have proposed an ambitious plan to refreeze the north and south poles as a way to reverse ice loss.

In a new study, experts said that high-altitude aircraft can spray fine aerosol particles into the atmosphere at latitudes 60 degrees north and south.

If released at 43,000 feet (above the aircraft’s sailing altitudes), these aerosols will slowly drift toward the pole, shading the surface slightly below.

This additional shade will allow the melting electrodes to refreeze, alleviating the problems of glacial melting and rising sea levels.

Scientists say this technology “mits climate change by diverting a small portion of incoming solar radiation into space”.

The concept, called stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI), would cost $11 billion (£9.6 billion) a year – but the researchers say this will be cheaper than other climate mitigation methods.

The researchers propose a system of high-flying jets that spray microscopic aerosol particles into the atmosphere at latitudes 60 degrees north and south.

Stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI)

Scientists have developed a concept according to which aircraft flying at high altitude can spray microscopic aerosol particles into the atmosphere at latitudes 60 degrees north and south.

If injected at 43,000 feet (above cruising altitudes), these aerosols will slowly drift toward the pole, shading the surface slightly below.

Scientists say this technology “mits climate change by diverting a small portion of incoming solar radiation into space”.

The concept is laid out in a new study published in the journal Environmental Research Communications led by Wake Smith at Yale University.

The researchers acknowledged that the concept was controversial, but argued that it would be “possible” and that $11 billion a year is “too cheap” compared to other climate responses such as carbon sequestration.

“There are widespread and reasonable concerns about the dissemination of aerosols to cool the planet,” said Smith, a lecturer at Yale University.

“But if the risk/benefit equation is going to pay off anywhere, it’s at the poles.”

Cooling at the poles will provide direct protection for only a small part of the planet, although middle latitudes should also see some drop in temperature, the team admits.

“However, any deliberate shift of the global temperature regulator would be of common interest to all of humanity and not just the boycott of the Arctic states and Patagonia,” Smith said.

According to Smith and colleagues, particle injections from aircraft will be performed seasonally in the long days of local spring and early summer.

The same fleet of aircraft can serve both hemispheres, moving to the opposite pole as the seasons change.

Pre-existing military refueling aircraft such as the KC-135 and A330 MMRT do not have sufficient payload at the required altitudes.  However, newly designed high-altitude tankers, including one called the SAIL-43K, will prove more efficient, the team says.

Pre-existing military refueling aircraft such as the KC-135 and A330 MMRT do not have sufficient payload at the required altitudes. However, newly designed high-altitude tankers, including one called the SAIL-43K, will prove more efficient, the team says.

Aerosol blankets will extend 60 degrees north and south – roughly the level of Anchorage in Alaska and the southern tip of Patagonia.

Pre-existing military refueling aircraft such as the KC-135 and A330 MMRT do not have sufficient payload at the required altitudes.

However, the team says that newly designed high-altitude carriers, including one mentioned in the study called SAIL-43K, will prove more efficient.

A fleet of about 125 tanks could lift enough payload to cool the poles by 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) per year, which would bring them back close to average pre-industrial temperatures.

The $11 billion per year costs are less than a third of the cost of cooling the entire planet at the same 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit volume and a tiny fraction of the cost of reaching net zero emissions, according to experts.

However, the plan is not without flaws – the plane would, of course, emit its own emissions, which would contribute to global warming.

This additional shade will allow the melting electrodes to refreeze, mitigating the problem of glacial melting and thus rising sea levels.  In the photo, the ice in the Arctic is melting

This additional shade will allow the melting electrodes to refreeze, mitigating the problem of glacial melting and thus rising sea levels. In the photo, the ice in the Arctic is melting

What’s more, the aerosol consists of sulfur dioxide, which can cause nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and corrosive damage to the airways and lungs.

According to experts, less than 1 percent of the world’s population lives in the target areas of spread, so the risk to most of humanity is minimal.

Smith also acknowledged that the idea would not address the underlying causes of climate change. Alternatively, it may be something plaster of sticky ground.

“Although this may change in a rapidly warming world, stratospheric aerosol injections merely address the symptoms of climate change but not the underlying disease,” Smith said.

It’s aspirin, not penicillin. It is not a substitute for carbon removal.

Unfortunately, potential approaches to tackling the problem of glacial melting and rising sea levels are becoming more urgent, with the poles warming many times faster than the global average, studies have shown.

The Arctic is warming nearly four times faster than the rest of the world, study reveals

A 2022 study found that the Arctic is heating up about four times faster than the Earth’s average – up to twice as fast as previously described.

The researchers analyzed multiple data sets from the likes of NASA and the Met Office on Arctic Circle temperatures between 1979 and 2021.

They found that a large proportion of the Arctic Ocean had warmed at a rate of 1.35 degrees Fahrenheit (0.75 degrees Celsius) per decade during this period, nearly four times faster than the global average.

Previous studies indicate that the Arctic is warming either two times or two or three times faster than the average global temperature.

The Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the world due to the loss of sea ice.

When the shiny, reflective ice melts, it gives way to a darker ocean. This amplifies the warming trend because the ocean surface absorbs more heat from the sun than the surface of snow and ice.

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