Researchers looking to artificially cool the planet by injecting aerosol into the atmosphere may be sent back to the drawing board, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Exeter in the UK have found that proposals to reduce the impact of global warming by imitating volcanic eruptions could negatively impact global regions prone to either tumultuous storms or prolonged droughts.
Geoengineering is the intentional manipulation of the climate to counter the impact of global warming, and includes different methods, including stratospheric aerosol injection. .
However, the researchers now believe that while injections of aerosols in the northern hemisphere would reduce tropical cyclone activity, it would also increase the likelihood of droughts in the Sahel—the area of sub-Saharan Africa just south of the Sahara Desert.
“Our results confirm that regional solar geoengineering is a highly risky strategy which could simultaneously benefit one region to the detriment of another,” Anthony Jones, Ph.D., a climate science expert from the University of Exeter and lead author of the paper, said in a statement. “It is vital that policymakers take solar geoengineering seriously and act swiftly to install effective regulation.”
The researchers found that injections of aerosols in the northern hemisphere would decrease North Atlantic tropical cyclone frequency, while injections contained to the southern hemisphere could possibly enhance them.
“This research shows how a global temperature target such as 1.5 or two [degrees Celsius] needs to be combined with information on a more regional scale to properly assess the full range of climate impacts,” Jim Haywood, a professor from the Mathematics department at Exeter and co-author of the study, said in a statement.
The study was published Nature Communications.