Scientists To Pump Water into the Sky to Combat Climate Change

September 15, 2011

Scientists To Pump Water into the Sky to Combat Climate Change

This October a team of British scientists and engineers from the universities of Bristol, Cambridge and Oxford plan to field test an artificial volcano as a solution to global warming.

The test, to be held at a secret location, will float a small balloon more than half a mile above the ground with an attached hose allowing water to be pumped into the atmosphere. The team will study the impact of spraying particles directly into the atmosphere.

The field test is part of a project called Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering (SPICE). SPICE was inspired by the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines. That volcano spewed 20 million tons of sulfate particles into the atmosphere, cooling Earth by 0.5 degree Celsius for 18 months.

If the SPICE  feasibility tests are successful the eventual plan is for a helium balloon the size of a football stadium to be tethered 14 miles above the Earth by a giant hose, which will pump out hundreds of tonnes of chemical particles into the stratosphere.

While the October experiment is expected to have no impact on the atmosphere, environment groups in the U.S., Canada and Britain have said the eventual deployment of such a system could have devastating consequences, with the potential to affect rainfall and harm food supplies by creating large changes in weather patterns such as deadly droughts.” And even if it successfully cools the planet by bouncing some of the sun’s energy back into space, it would do nothing for the build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere, which leads to increased ocean acidity.

The delivery system could also be used to try out “low-level cloud whitening”, a geo-engineering proposal backed financially by Microsoft chairman and philanthropist Bill Gates. That proposal calls for, fine sea salt crystals to be pumped up and sprayed into the air to increase the number of droplets and the reflectivity in clouds. Together, many droplets are expected to diffuse sunlight and make a cloud whiter.


‘Geo-engineering to slow Global Warming:’ Dr. David Keith