Environment

Further doubts atmospheric umbrella will save marine environments

A part of Moofushi coral reef hit by coral bleachingPic credit: Bruno de Giusti
A part of Moofushi coral reef hit by coral bleachingPic credit: Bruno de Giusti
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A part of Moofushi coral reef hit by coral bleachingPic credit: Bruno de Giusti
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A part of Moofushi coral reef hit by coral bleachingPic credit: Bruno de Giusti

We recently looked at problems with a last resort solution to counteract global warming by artificially shading the Earth from sunlight by injecting sulphur or small, reflective particles into the upper atmosphere. Now a new study from the Carnegie Institution has thrown further doubt on the effectiveness of such a proposal. Although it may lower the planet’s temperature by a couple of degrees, it would do little to stop the acidification of the world’s oceans that threatens coral reefs and other marine life.

According to the Carnegie Institution, the main problem with trying to shade the Earth is that it addresses the symptoms rather than the cause. That is, it deals with the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere rather than the amount of carbon entering the atmosphere. The institution's research found that the slight reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) was not enough to make a big difference to ocean acidification. This is in spite of land plants being expected to grow more vigorously in a high-CO2, cool environment, which enables them to hold onto more carbon.

Ocean acidification rivals global warming as a threat to marine ecosystems, especially coral reefs, which need to be surrounded by mineral-saturated water in order to grow. Rising levels of CO2 make seawater more acidic, leading to lower mineral saturation. The Carnegie research team believe that continued CO2 emissions will cause coral reefs to begin dissolving within a few decades, putting the survival of these ecosystems at extreme risk.

The research team points out that the minimal effect of geoengineering on ocean acidification adds weight to its argument against tampering with the planet's complex and finely tuned climate system. Critics warn that such a scheme might also alter rainfall patterns, damage the planet's ozone layer or have other unexpected effects.

The study by researchers at the Carnegie Institution appears in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

3 comments
Todd Dunning
The same Carnegie Institution who already predicted several years ago that Global Warming would cause ocean levels to rise by one foot by this time. But they got enough grant money to keep them going several years on that one. The real loser is indeed the environment, because true, factual phenomena may be laughingly dismissed, tainted by global warming "research". Ocean acidification might even be true, but unfortunately it comes from profiteers within the scientific community with absolutely zero credibility today.
sonoffar
Dear Gizmag, You have some great offerings and heads up articles, thank you for your efforts. I have a minor complaint however. You seem to be finding more and more items to post concerning Atmospheric Global Warming, (AGW), but are aparently unable to discover any items concerning the fallacy that is AGW. Is this a misconception on my part or is Gizmag so committed to the proposition that the Earth is about to incinerate that you will not offer any balance to your posts? sonoffar
MD
This Ocean acidification argument is seriously flawed. The Hotter the water, the LESS dissolved CO2 it contains (there is a saturation point as with all things dissolved in fluid)) Sea water has probably been saturated with C02 for most of the earth\'s existence. Measure the pH of a bottle of CocaCola, open it and leave open for 2 days and measure the acidity. what do you find, the acidity has dropped to almost neutral. Add a bit of calcium to the bottle, and the acid is buffered. (Returns to Neutral pH) Lucky for the coral reefs is that their calcium will buffer the water acidity ,as will all the limestone under water all over the world, as well as the many other sedimentary rocks containing calcium and other chemical acid buffers. Global warming Must = Higher ocean pH levels, ie less acid. How these ridiculous papers get written and published is beyond me.