Sulphur screens

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What is a sulphur screen?

It is the idea of adding a screen of sulphur particles at high altitudes in the stratosphere. These particles would help to partially reflect the Sun's radiationback into space.

The sulphur shield would aim to recreate the natural process that occurs during volcanic eruptions. 


10m tonnes

The amount of sulphur that was ejected into the atmosphere in 1991 from the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines

0.6°C

The drop in recorded temperature across the Earth for two years after Pinatubo eruption

1995


The year Professor Paul Crutzen won the Nobel Prize for helping to explain how the ozone layer is formed and depleted.

Partly due to his work, world governments took action on chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), used in fridges and aerosols, that were thinning the ozone's presence over Antarctica.

Professor Paul Crutzen's advocates the idea of a sulphur shield solution. It could involve hundreds of rockets filled with sulphur being launched into the upper stratosphere. Or distributed from aircraft.

Consequences?

The presense of sulphur in the lower atmosphere from the industrial revolution has had harmful effects.

In the 1950s sulphur in the atmosphere was resulting in thousands of people dying from respiratory diseases.

High amounts of sulphur in the atmosphere can also cause acid rain and has had devastating effects on both plants and animals.

 

Professor Crutzen believes that in the next 30 years global warming may reache such a critical level that a radical strategy will be needed.

A sulphur shield solution does not tackle the problem of the ever-increasing levels of CO2 being emitted.

Further reading

A chaning climate of opinion - The Economist

Creating a sulphur screen - BBC News

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