Skip to main content

While we have been hearing about this kind of thing for a while now, it is about to become reality. A group of Harvard scientists are going to be working to fight climate change in a very interesting way.

The attempts they will be making could drastically change things. Basically, they will be using different sprays to reflect sunlight artificially and in doing this work to reduce the temperature. While the idea is controversial at best if it works, we might be able to see real changes. This project is called Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx) and will be about three million dollars right off the bat just for testing.

Through this experiment, Harvard officials hope to advance their understandings on stratospheric aerosols in general so that it can be determined whether they are actually useful or not. It is thought that these researchers will be able to reduce their levels of uncertainty and determine the risks and benefits of solar geoengineering. If these sprays could potentially eliminate or reduce our ozone loss in the long run without risks, we might have a good solution for now.

Harvard wrote as follows on the experiment itself:

At the heart of SCoPEx is a propelled scientific balloon that can travel a few meters per second (walking speed) relative to the surrounding air. The propellers serve two functions. First, the propeller wake forms a well-mixed volume (roughly 1 km long and 100 meters in diameter) that serves as an experimental ‘beaker’ in which we can add gasses or particles. Second, the propellers allow us to fly the gondola back and forth through the volume to measure the properties of the perturbed air.

The advantage of the SCoPEx propelled balloon is that it allows us to create a small controlled volume of stratospheric air and observe its evolution for (we hope) over 24 hours. Hence the acronym, Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment. If we used an aircraft instead of a balloon, we would not be able to use such a small perturbed volume nor would we be able to observe it for such long durations.

SCoPEx builds on four decades of research on the environmental chemistry of the ozone layer in the Anderson/Keith/Keutsch groups. SCoPEx will use or adapt many of the high-performance sensors and flight-system engineering experience developed for this ozone research. Analyzing these experiments will improve our knowledge beyond what is currently available within computer models or is measurable with confidence under laboratory conditions.

For this experiment, frozen water will be released or so researchers state. This being for now until they move forward and release calcium carbonate and other minerals. This whole operation is according to a release funded by the internal Harvard research funds that are provided by Professor David Keith and Frank Keutsch as well as Harvard’s Solar Geoengineering Research Program. We do not know what results will be obtained through this but researchers believe they have a good idea of what will come.

According to Forbes, the basis around this experiment is from studying the effects of large volcanic eruptions on the planet’s temperature. Because computer models can only go so far taking this out into the field and giving it a go is the next step. This geoengineering technique could really change things. That being said, some studies suggest that spraying sunlight reflective particles into the atmosphere could have lots of consequences and kill off crops or change weather patterns at the very least.

To learn more about SCoPEx please feel free to click here. While this report is older, it is still full of a lot of information on the experiment itself. This experiment is set to begin in 2019 as far as in the field things go. What do you think about all of this?