MIT1_018JF09_sw_paper3

MIT1_018JF09_sw_paper3 - Investigation of the effects of...

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Investigation of the effects of stratospheric sulfur injection on terrestrial autotroph productivity via experimentation with diffuse radiation controlled greenhouses Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering 1.018/7.30J Fall 2009
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Executive Summary Population growth and the development of more energy demanding technologies have led to an increase in fossil fuel combustion since the Industrial Revolution. As a byproduct of fossil fuel combustion greenhouse gases have reached unprecedented levels in the atmosphere. The disruption of Earth’s equilibrium has resulted in the development of several schemes to mitigate global climate change, one of which is geoengineering - the intentional manipulation of the environment on a planetary scale. The focus of this proposal will be on the unintended consequences of one particular geoengineering scheme: the injection of sulfur aerosols into the stratosphere. Increasing the concentration of sulfate particles in the atmosphere will increase Earth’s albedo, as these particles reflect some of the sun’s radiation back into space. Large-scale injection of sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere can result in unintended consequences such as acid rain, ozone depletion, and effects on terrestrial productivity. The experiment described in this proposal was designed to enlighten our understanding of the implications of stratospheric sulfur injection and yield a better idea of the practicality of large-scale application. The experiment utilizes a series of diffuse radiation controlled greenhouses that intend to mimic the affect that sulfate aerosols have on incoming radiation by use of different greenhouse glazing materials. The goal is to understand how a change in radiation brought about by stratospheric sulfur injection affects terrestrial autotroph productivity. The results of this experiment will help to create a more comprehensive and full understanding of the unintended consequences of injecting sulfur into the stratosphere. The proposed experiment investigates the effect that alteration of radiation brought about by stratospheric sulfur injection has on terrestrial productivity. Our results will show either a positive correlation between alternation of radiation and productivity or they may reveal a negative relationship. If the results do reveal that increased concentrations of sulfate aerosols result in increased autotrophic productivity we are actually finding that this particular geoengineering scheme is dually effective in that it cools the planet by deflecting radiation and increases the carbon sink potential of terrestrial autotrophs. The ability of stratospheric sulfur injection to mitigate global change in more than one way would increase the viability of injecting sulfur into the stratosphere as opposed to other geoengineering schemes.
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An Introduction to Global Climate Change Since Earth’s formation there have been dramatic and cyclic variations in global climate.
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MIT1_018JF09_sw_paper3 - Investigation of the effects of...

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