AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the ice caps of Greenland continue to melt, climatologists are thinking outside the box to come up with ways to prevent further melting.
The theory goes that injecting sulfur into the stratosphere would reduce solar radiation and therefore reducing the warming of the Greenland ice cap. The stratosphere is a stable meteorological layer in the atmosphere roughly 8-15 kilometers (roughly 5-9 miles) above sea level. The sulfur would “act as a sort of mirror” to reflect solar radiation away from the ice caps in Greenland.
Back in 1991, a large volcanic eruption injected millions of tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere and global temperatures dropped 0.5°C.
Melting ice caps is a problem for many reasons, not least of which is the resulting sea level rises they would cause and have already caused. The Greenland ice caps are expected to shrink with direct blame falling on man-made climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions.
Scientists used a climate model known as MAR, developed at the University of Liege, to test the sulfur injection idea.
The models suggested that injecting sulfur would bring some benefits including the reduction of melting of the ice cap in Greenland by 6% as well as a global reduction in warming, but that the expected reduction wouldn’t be enough to keep the ice sheet in a “stable state” by the year 2100.
There are also several risks associated with such a plan. Additional sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere could have detrimental impacts on the ozone layer, the water cycle and could potentially make wet areas wetter while making dry areas drier.