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Geoengineering: Implicit promises

FOR the past few years, a European collaboration called IMPLICC (Implications and Risks of Novel Options to Limit Change) has been looking at what it might mean to engineer the , by reducing the amount of sunshine that reaches the Earth’s surface. A lot of IMPLICC’s work, like much else in science, has taken the form of computer modelling. In its case the models try to mimic the effects of things like putting veils of reflective particles into the , or brightening the clouds over the oceans.This week the IMPLICC team and other interested parties met in Mainz, Germany, to discuss the results—for the various models have turned out to agree far better than many of their creators expected. In particular, they suggest that particles in the can indeed stop rising levels of greenhouse gases raising the overall global temperature, though in doing so they slightly cool the tropics while the poles warm a bit.

Other things being equal, the models also agree that geoengineering tends to suppress the hydrologic cycle, with less evaporation and less rainfall.Some researchers, however, want to go beyond modelling. They wish to experiment in the real world. The highest-profile of these schemes has been part of a programme called SPICE (Stratospheric Injection for Climate Engineering), which is paid for mainly by Britain’s Engineering…

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