A closer look into Harvard scientists’ plan to block out the sun


  • Solar geoengineering aims to cool global temperatures by reflecting some of the sun’s light back into space.
  • The team plans to test how releasing particles at high altitudes affects a small part of the stratosphere.
  • Solar geoengineering solutions such as this could be a relatively cheap way to curb global warming.

In March 1991, the second-largest volcano eruption of the 20th century occurred at Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines. The blast proved toxic to the environment and deadly to hundreds of people in the area.

But its most far-reaching effect was the projection of some 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere, where the particles reacted with water and eventually spread over the entire planet, creating a hazy layer that absorbed and scattered incoming sunlight. This resulted in spectacular sunsets, extraordinarily cold winters and wet summers, and, importantly, the cooling of the planet by about 1 degree Fahrenheit.

Now, a group of researchers at Harvard plan to mimic that effect in a new experiment designed to illuminate how scientists might someday use geoengineering technology to curb climate change. The project, called Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx), involves sending a steerable balloon into the stratosphere, about 20 km above ground, and releasing small particles of chalk, or…

Marcela
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Marcela

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COO @oneqube | Angel Investor | Proud mom | Advisor @TheTutuProject | Let's Go #NYRangers
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