Tailored Solar Radiation Management to Counteract Global Warming


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With Solar Radiation Management (SRM) the amount of sun radiation reaching the Earth would be controlled. Photo by thebadastronomer

Can we counteract global warming by controlling the amount of the sun’s radiation that reaches the Earth?

Also known as Solar Radiation Management (SRM), the concept of managing climate change by reducing the heat that reaches us from the sun is a concept that was explored in a recent article, published in Nature Climate Change.

Solar Radiation Management: the Principle

The principle of the Solar Radiation Management (SRM) is to artificially control the amount of the sun’s radiation reaching the Earth.

In particular, SRM projects look into ways to increase the atmosphere’s reflectivity, also known as albedo, or whiteness.

By increasing the amount of reflection in the atmosphere, scientists could reduce the amount of energy that reaches the Earth’s surface, which would, in turn, cause a decrease in the temperature of the atmosphere.

The lowered temperature in the atmosphere would then counteract the temperature increase registered in the last century, also known as Global Warming.

Science can achieve this increase in the reflectivity of the atmosphere by creating a shield in the upper atmosphere, made of small particles/droplets in an aerosol form, which would reflect some of the energy from sun.

Changing The Climate: Problems Associated with SRM

Despite the potentials of SRM, many scientists are still doubtful about its usefulness. The main criticism is that the effect this methodology will have would be different in different parts of the globe. This would, therefore, lead to inequalities, i.e. different ways in which the effect of the temperature increase is compensated. Because of this, SRM, and other types of climate geoengineering, might either not be very effective, or even lead to unpredictable outcomes.

For these reasons, to date, SRM has only been studied theoretically, with mathematical modeling, but has not yet been implemented.

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