Skip to comments.Ozone: Friend or Foe?
Posted on 05/03/2008 8:34:17 PM PDT by neverdem
Out of the frying pan.
Studies show that pumping sulfur into the atmosphere could seriously damage the ozone layer.
Credit: Ross J. Salawitch [via Science]
The ozone layer protects all life on Earth, but it's frustrating scientists' attempts to curb global warming. Take geoengineering: Researchers have proposed that injecting sulfur particles into the stratosphere might counter the effects of greenhouse gas buildup, but a new study suggests that the approach could thin the planet's already fragile ozone layer. Leaving the ozone layer alone comes with its own risks, however. A second study warns that the gradual recovery of the Antarctic ozone hole could speed the continent's warming.
The sulfur strategy goes like this: Researchers release sulfur particles from high-flying aircraft or large balloons in an attempt to mimic volcanoes. That's ostensibly a good thing, because the large amounts of ash and sulfur dioxide volcanoes eject reduce Earth's absorption of sunlight, resulting in a cooling effect. In 1991, for example, a large eruption by Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines flung out thousands of metric tons of SO2 and cooled temperatures, albeit slightly and temporarily, around the world.
But don't load those sulfur carriers just yet, says atmospheric scientist Simone Tilmes of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. Tilmes and colleagues analyzed the chemical actions of sulfur in the atmosphere, studied the effects of the Mount Pinatubo eruption, and modeled the potential impact of an attempted geoengineering effort. Adding sulfur to the atmosphere would spark chemical reactions leading to the liberation of chlorine, a compound known to destroy ozone, the team reports online today in Science. The effect, the researchers say, would reverse 2 decades of efforts to restore Earth's ailing ozone layer (ScienceNOW, 11 September 2007).
Physicist Paul A. Newman of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, says the paper is important because it identifies the relationship between atmospheric sulfur levels and "surprisingly large" ozone losses. "Nature provided us with an excellent 'geoengineering experiment' with the Mount Pinatubo eruption," he says. "We need to think long and hard before we experiment with the global climate," adds atmospheric scientist Uma Bhatt of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. "We need more studies like [this] to assess the risk involved with geoengineering."
Meanwhile, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder, has concluded that a complete recovery by the Antarctic ozone hole--which developed in the 20th century because of the effects of ozone-destroying chemicals released into the atmosphere by human activity--could amplify warming in the Southern Hemisphere. Atmospheric scientist Judith Perlwitz and colleagues report in the 26 April issue of Geophysical Research Letters that if the ozone hole continues to recover, temperatures in the Antarctic stratosphere could rise as much as 9°C by the end of the century and contribute to global temperature increases.
This is freaking retarded. What about when we have reduced crop yields because of this? What then? What about the increase in skin cancer? The idiocy of these people is beyond comprehension.
What a stupid article.
I have a grand idea, lets just keep burning coal and make shale diesel. That stuff has plenty of sulfur in it, and we've been putting it into the atmosphere for decades...
In fact, isn't that what they say causes "global warming"?? HAHAHAHA! Those "scientists" better get their story straight and stick to the script.
Why can’t we just take off the scrubbers that the EPA made us put on all of our coal burning electrical plants? Wasn’t that done about 20 or 30 years ago to catch the sulfur?
Regardless - I thinks its nuts trying to “cool down” the earth. One, I doubt we’ll have much effect, and two - I don’t think the evidence is too overwhelming that we’re headed to a future warming anyway. (Personally, I think we’re about due for an ice age if you look at the long-term cycles for the last 500,000 years or so.)
It looks like cooling on the horizon, which is far more devastating. Pollution control is common sense, to an extant, when it comes to burning anything on a mass scale near population centers though.
I think you are correct. The only reason freon became such a problem was, Du Pont's patent expired, and they would no longer have had the market to themselves.
No, no, no! The burning makes CO^2 to make Glorbull Warming.
The CO^2 is a bad thing, unless you are a farmer trying make sure his crops can breathe, and exhale O^2.
The sulfur makes acid rain.
The acid rain acidifies the crop lands, which is a bad thing, except when farmers need to apply sulfur to their fields to acidify them.
CO^2 & S are bad things, except when they are good things. Got it?
Instead of sulfur, the global warming demagogues should be placed in the stratosphere.