Countering global warming or depleting ozone layer

Author:  Ziadh Muhammed

Date:  May 2008

Sometimes what is assumed to be good may prove to have unforeseen consequences. A well-known solution for countering global warming is found to be an enemy to the ozone layer, which blocks the dangerous Ultra Violet Rays (UV rays) from reaching to the earth. Simone Tilmes of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), and her team has recently alarmed the world that the stratosphere injection, a very popular idea to offset the global warming, could have a severe impact on the ozone layer.

Stratosphere injection is a geo-Engineering proposal which has gained more popularity among the climate scientists to mitigate the impacts of the global warming. It is one of the well known geo engineering ideas and it is achieved by injecting sulfate particles into the stratosphere as suggested by Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen and other researchers. These sulfate particles would reduce the amount of solar radiation reaching the earth surface and keep the planet relatively cool.

Though the sulfate particles do not react with ozone, they provide surface for chlorine particles to get activated and react with ozone. Thus, the ozone will be depleted. Research shows that the artificial injection of sulfate particles would wash ¼ to ¾ of the ozone above the Arctic layer over the next few decades and would delay the expected recovery above the Antarctic by about 30 to 70 years. The research has also found correlation with the size of the sulfate particles; smaller the sulfate particle size larger the impact is.

"Our research indicates that trying to artificially cool off the planet could have perilous side effects," said Tilmes. "While climate change is a major threat, more research is required before society attempts global geo-engineering solutions."

The team warned that the impact would be severe than predicted especially during unusual weather conditions and major volcanic eruptions since volcanic eruptions too supply lot of sulfate particles to the stratosphere. "Clearly much more research needs to be conducted to determine the full implications of geo-engineering before we may seriously consider the injection of sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere," said co-author Rolf Moeller of the Joelich Research Center in Germany.

Written by Muhammed Ziadh

Reviewed by Brandy Sullivan, Pooja Ghatalia

Published by Pooja Ghatalia.