Another atmospheric aerosol injection plan

Chaiten volcano

Via press release

Palo Alto, CA—Scientists at the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology have taken a new approach on examining a proposal to fix the warming planet. So-called geoengineering ideas—large-scale projects to change the Earth’s climate—have included erecting giant mirrors in space to reflect solar radiation, injecting aerosols of sulfate into the stratosphere making a global sunshade, and much more. Past modeling of the sulfate idea looked at how the stratospheric aerosols might affect Earth’s climate and chemistry. The Carnegie researchers started out differently by asking how, if people decided what kind of climate they want, they would go about determining the aerosol distribution pattern that would come closest to achieving their climate goals. This new approach is the first attempt to determine the optimal way of achieving defined climate goals. The research is published in the September 16, 2010, issue of the Environmental Research Letters.

“We know that sulfate can cool the Earth because we have observed global temperature decreases following volcanic eruptions,” explained lead author George Ban-Weiss. “Past computer model simulations have shown that injecting sulfate uniformly into the stratosphere could reduce the surface temperature of the Earth, but the equator would be over cooled and the poles under cooled. You would also make the Earth drier, and decrease surface water runoff.”

The Carnegie scientists ran five simulations using a global climate model with different sulfate aerosol concentrations depending on latitude. They then used the results from these simulations in an optimization model to determine what distribution of sulfates would come closest to achieving specified climate goals. They then tested these distributions in the global climate model to assess how well the climate goals were met.

They found that with more sulfate over the poles than in tropical regions, the temperature distribution was more like that of a low carbon dioxide climate. However, changes in the water cycle were most effectively diminished when the sulfates were distributed nearly uniformly.

They found that if the right amount of uniformly distributed aerosols were put into the stratosphere, the magnitude of the temperature change could be diminished by 90% and the change in runoff by two-thirds. Under another scenario with aerosol distributions varying latitudinally as a parabola, the magnitude of temperature change was reduced by 94%, but then runoff changes were only reduced in half.

“Changes in temperature and the hydrological cycle cannot be simultaneously minimized because the hydrological cycle is more sensitive to changes in solar radiation than are surface air temperatures,” explained Ban-Weiss.

“Our optimization model worked well because the complex climate models indicate that much of the climate system operates as a very linear system. This is surprising when you hear all the talk of tipping points,” remarked co author Ken Caldeira. He continued, “Of course, this is just one model and it does not include all processes that are important in reality. Our results are illustrative and do not provide a sound basis for making policy decisions.”

The specific climate goals and metrics used were somewhat arbitrary. “The study was primarily aimed at developing a new methodology for looking at the climate problem,” said Caldeira.

“It’s important to stress that geoengineering options can never reverse all of the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions. For example, it doesn’t reverse ocean acidification. And it obviously has associated risk. So geoengineering is not an alternative to greenhouse gas emissions reductions.” said Ban-Weiss.


Climate model results relative to the low-CO2 climate.

Image caption– Climate model results relative to the low-CO2 climate. The left side shows results when temperature differences are minimized. The right side shows results when precipitation minus evaporation (PminusE) is minimized. The upper panel shows results for temperature and the bottom panel shows results for precipitation minus evaporation. In the model, geoengineering reduces the amount of change in both temperature and precipitation minus evaporation caused by high CO2 concentrations. Using a parabolic distribution of aerosols (more aerosols in the polar regions) slightly improves the cancellation of temperature changes but slightly degrades the ability to reverse changes in precipitation minus evaporation.


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Is this for real?
First, models substitute experiments, now models substitute common sense!
Please keep it virtual, yes?

John F. Hultquist

“ . . . if people decided what kind of climate they want . . . ”
Next step is to get a map of world climates,
pick the place that best fits your ideal, and move there. Don’t inflict your ideal on the rest of us.


“aerosol distributions varying latitudinally as a parabola”
Did they happen to mention how to get the air to hold still long enough so that they could draw this parabola?
Do they plan to use the surplus wind turbines as fans to civilize the jet stream so that it too becomes the kind of jet stream we all whish is could be?
I guess they could tether each molecule of the aerosols together using long carbon nanotubes, sort of like a three dimensional web, and they lift them into position using space elevators on cables.
Yea, it could work. It will need some research into a few things, but most of the ground-work has been done, and I think my brothers friend saw a prototype of something like that on YouTube.
Let’s go for it!

Mike Ford

I got lost in the 3rd paragraph. The output of model 1 is the input to model 2. The output of model 2 is the input to model 3. This is science??????

Steve H

it sounds to me like the “answer” to the climate change “problem” is considerably more invasive than the “problem” itself.
can you imagine? sprinkling sulfates over the entire planet in order to control the as yet unquantified effects of a trace gas?
I wish my keyboard came with a ridiculous button. I could push it and on the other side of the world a big acme hammer would pop out of nowhere and knock some sense into whoever spent money on that.

Did they not learn anything from the significant ozone loss in the stratosphere after the devastating 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo? (Philippines)
They could actually get ozone destroying chemical reactions going that might not be short lived. We’ve enough problem with that.
There are some big volcanoes clearing their throats right now. No brainer, shelve this idea for a while. A long while!

Leon Brozyna

“Our results are illustrative and do not provide a sound basis for making policy decisions.”

Talk about a gift for understatement! The same can be said for the other models. All these schemes remind me of a B-movie sci-fi thriller, in which the well meaning scientist runs his experiment, convinced in his own mind that great things await the earth, and all mayhem ensues. The earth is saved at the last minute by the scientist’s most vocal critic.
Who will save us now? What does the script say?

Man-made Ignorance

this is OT, but I found this on the Australian Governments crappy climate web site:
It states “The linear warming trend over the past 50 years (0.13°C per decade) is much more rapid than the 4°C to 7°C warming
between ice ages and warm interglacial periods, which takes about 5000 years, i.e. about 0.001°C per decade.”
Wouldn’t that be about 0.001°C per YEAR????????
Besides plenty of evidence which shows even holocene ain’t that stable….

Common Sense

“It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature”

Neil Jones

Is it me? Wasn’t a past scare story all about Acid Rain destroying plant life? Doesn’t plant life reduce carbon? Wouldn’t killing off/reducing the growth of plant life increase CO2 levels?
My Brain hurts!


in australia we want it to warm up coldest september on record snow in tasmania

John Trigge

1935 – “We’ll just introduce a few of these Bufo Marinus toads to the sugar cane to get rid of those pesky beetles. No worries, mate. Trust us, we’re scientists. We can control them”
2010 – “Holy Hopping Holocaust, Batman, what have we done”
For the past 60 years, cane toads have been expanding their territory in Australia and are capable of colonising at least four of the mainland Australian states.
Scientific name Bufo marinus
■produces a highly toxic venom from glands in its skin
■can cause death if ingested by domestic and most native animals
■is a voracious feeder, consuming a wide variety of insects, frogs, small reptiles, mammals and even birds
■has been known to transmit diseases such as salmonella
So, whose idea of the ‘prefect climate’ are we going to use – the UN’s? They never have any problems getting agreement between all of the countries involved as to what is best for all of us, do they?
They could also control the contracts to the favoured few to implement the ‘solution’, and the clean-up, and the rebuilding, and the next solution after they wreck a few economies and countries due to floods, famine, drought, storms, etc due to the unintended consequences that they didn’t think of. Of course, newer, more expensive super-computers will be needed to find the solution to the previous solution, ad infinitum.
/rant off

Brian Johnson uk

Ban Ban-Weiss, the man is wasting grant money.

Evan Jones

If we have to go that route, I vote for the funky mirror thing: In case you screw up, you can undo the funky mirror thing. You can’t undo the cosmic sneeze thing.

I do not believe that this is real.


evanmjones says:
September 16, 2010 at 10:49 pm
If we have to go that route, I vote for the funky mirror thing: In case you screw up, you can undo the funky mirror thing. You can’t undo the cosmic sneeze thing.

We could turn the mirror around so that Al Gore could look up and gaze upon his image amongst the stars – it might provide sufficient distraction to get him to stop bothering the rest of us.

This geo-engineering is getting stupider and stupider with every new article. Engineers have been and still are the greatest linear thinkers around. Dynamic systems like climate, oceans, rain forests and so on are anything but linear. Have you ever found a truly straight line made by nature? If these boys want to play computer games I see no great harm in it. What saddens me is humanity has all kinds of problem that need solutions. I see playing computer simulation games, attempting to solve non existent problems, a great waste of resources that could be more productively put to those real problems. Better yet go help Roger Pielke Sr. invent a dynamic, stochastic, numerical model, for regional climate interactions, that actually works.


“if people decided what kind of climate they want”
Yeah, like maybe right after we finish determining the number of Angels which can fit on the head of a pin?


Even if they did manage to get it dead solid perfect, there is no guarantee that the climate will continue in the long term the way that it normally does. The unintended consequence could really unhinge the climate, and by the time they managed to figure out the new direction it took, the damage would have been done.
And that’s the caveat emptor to peacefull use. Since when have great forces been only used for peace?
Therein lies the greatest danger.

Stop Global Dumbing Now

More models. Bah! Wish I could get paid that much money to play stupid video games all day.

Andreas Brecht

If this is research than I am the emperor of china. Insted of wasting time and money with their computer simulations these “researchers” should leave their offices and take some real live measurements.

I think this is a great idea. Actually it is being done already! Maybe the authors do not know. As kerosene contains 3000 ppm of sulfur, air traffic inserts a lot of SO2 into the stratosphere. There is a rapidly growing tendency to insert much more, as air traffic grows with rates of 5% and more per year.
If that is not enough, one could lift the 3000 ppm limit for kerosene and move towards the sulfur limit of bunker oil in ship traffic. This limit is 45000 ppm (or 4.5 %).

evanmjones says:
September 16, 2010 at 10:49 pm
“If we have to go that route, I vote for the funky mirror thing: In case you screw up, you can undo the funky mirror thing. ”
Well yes, but how do you undo it without breaking any? Seven years’ bad luck for each broken mirror, it could get nasty.

Martin Brumby

These guys need their modelling computers adjusted.
With a sledge hammer.



These people are ‘climate fascists’


“The Carnegie scientists ran five simulations using a global climate model”
A global climate model? There are different ones?


This is great Sci-fi stuff. Who knows, we might look back at all this climate engineering research as the birth of terra forming. 😉
cheers David

I suspect these computer-modelling scientists were not allowed to own or play with toys when they were kids. As long as they keep their games inside their own sandpit, the rest of us should be safe from their very dangerous ideas.

arthur clapham

I was told by an elderly farmer more than 60 years ago, ” It doesnt matter how clever
you are or how many qualifications you have, you can’t beat nature boy.”

John Marshall

Please save us from these techno-freak madmen. Geo-engineering is the stuff of Alien style sci-fi horror and not based on any fact.

Olaf Koenders

We’re spewing so much carbon into the air the planet’s gunna explode!! I know.. we’ll spew somethin’ else up there to fix it! That’ll teach nature how to behave..

UK Sceptic

Oh. My Goodness!


This is all I need to know:
“The Carnegie researchers started out differently by asking how, if people decided what kind of climate they want, they would go about determining the aerosol distribution pattern that would come closest to achieving their climate goals. “
Question: WHOM is the ‘their’ in the their statement?
Will a small cadre of insiders get to determine whom is the majority in whatever case of a decision?
And just who the hell gave them the authority to decide for the rest of us anyway?
As any astute reader of history will know, so-called ‘democracy’ is nought but two wolves and a sheep deciding ‘what’s for dinner.’
And the mentioned institution is nothing less than a rich boy’s conclave used to influence votes, polls, and line the pockets of the anointed.

Lawrie Ayres

Everything I would likely say has been said so I just add my name to those who think the idiots are in charge of the asylum. I imagine neither you nor I would be asked our opinion of the preferred climate but Gore, Cameron and Di Caprio would be consulted. Would they pick a climate that was comfortable, cool, warm or optimised for food production? Would they guarantee that no unforseen consequences of their actions would not send earth past a tipping point? Of course they would use the flawed GCMs that have lead to the present disaster to predict another, greater disaster. I always assumed Americans were smart. Seems not.

Alan the Brit

The climate is always changing, that’s what climate does, it is always either warming or cooling, it never stays the same, so as Prof Philip Stott has pointed out, when they “stabilise” the climate to what they “want” it to be, won’t it then just start to change again? I find it laughable that we’re blamed for using our climate system as a “dumping ground” according to WWF(Warring Wild fanatics)/Greenpeace(Red War)/FoE(enemy), take your pick, some, all, or none of them, scientists propose to dump more polution into it to solve a problem that may or may not exist!


This sounds a lot like throwing virgins into volcanoes. I’m sure it likely to be successful 50% of the time too. Hummmmm… just because we could once put a man or two on the moon ages ago doesn’t mean we can manage weather. I’m still convinced that the floride we put in the water supply is responsible for the rise in national stupidity. No bout’a’doubt it!


Recreating the Chernobyl effect on a bigger scale is a common trait in the environ-mental driven scientific community.
Wait till the first carbon capture storage ruptures and releases co2 en masse.


Shouldn’t we upgrade our space program first so we can go to another planet without life and PRACTICE terraforming FIRST before we even consider doing it on the planet where all humankind lives?


Can’t we just enclose the globe in a big plastic bag, build a super-duper solar powered air conditioner in space, and suck all of the hot air out of the atmosphere?
The planet’s got a fever!

I once saw a really bad, but funny, movie called Mom and Dad Save the Universe. In this movie, a planet of idiots wanted to destroy earth. I know now that the planet of idiots is really earth. When you break down what these people want to do, even Forrest Gump would call it stupid: These people claim humans are messing up the natural order of the environment. So their answer to fix the environment is to mess up the natural order of the environment. Brilliant. So brilliant that it is sure to get more grant money. Maybe they aren’t as stupid as I thought, maybe the only point is to do something that allows them to live a comfortable lifestyle.


I might be willing to grant these jokers a modicum of credibility if they stated somewhere in their (no doubt) taxpayer funded “study” how they plan to shut down and reverse this experiment if/when something goes wrong.

It was back in the 60’s.
During all night beer-and-pot sessions, graduate students developed guaranteed plans to bring about world peace and end world hunger. Guaranteed.
I went to a technical school where we developed a perpetual motion machine to end the use of fossil fuel.
Mostly, when the students sobered up they went about learning something. The difference now is that those plans get published.
I am jealous that our plans could never get published. I guess the students of the 60’s are in charge now and are willing to “give students a chance” and believe in the validity of those “brain storms”.
1. Pascvaks says:
September 17, 2010 at 3:35 am
This sounds a lot like throwing virgins into volcanoes.
Speaking of plans, I have developed a sure-fire way of saving those innocent virgins. Unfortunately I can’t convince the Love of My Life that it is the humane thing to do. Some women just don’t have a sense of humor!
Steamboat Jack (Jon Jewett’s evil twin.)

Tom in Florida

John F. Hultquist says:{September 16, 2010 at 9:35 pm}
“Next step is to get a map of world climates,
pick the place that best fits your ideal, and move there. Don’t inflict your ideal on the rest of us.”
That is the most common sense thing I have read in a long time. (it’s why I moved to Florida)

Lance of BC

Oh the irony, what were we thinking about in the 70’s to bring in air pollution laws to stop acid rain and catalytic converters to fend off a human made ice age, plus we were running out of oil after all.
Oh for shame, who knew we really started global warming, if only we had today’s scientists and computer modeling software warning us of this, it would of never happened.
Well at least we took immediate action on Chloral Floral Carbons and saved the earths ozone layer…….
/sarc. off

Just think … In the 1970s these same type loons were talking grinding up used tires, loading them aboard the then new 747, and covering the ice caps with carbon black … too … wait for it … stop the coming ice age.
Just imagine where would be with blackened ice caps today …
Replace one lie with a new lie and hope people are too stupid to remember the last totally absurd lie. In the age of the Internet, a hopeless strategy at best.


This would have been an appropriate picture for this article:
Mr. Burns’s sun-blocking machine!


899 says:
September 17, 2010 at 2:12 am.
And that makes two of us!
I get that damn mad at the absolute and total arrogance of these whackos who keep on assuming that they and they alone are the only ones that can “save the planet” with their crazy and usually irreversible schemes which are far more likely to destroy the very thing they are supposedly trying to save, ie; the planet and all the immense numbers of life forms it contains.
Nobody and nothing else counts with these whackos except their own opinions and self inflated reputations nor do they ever suggest that perhaps the other 6.7 billion inhabitants of this Earth should be given a say as to whether they actually want any change in their local and global climate and if they want anybody actually trying to mess around with the global climate in a big and totally unknown way with completely unknown and un-forecastable consequences.
I guess the 6.7 billions of this Earth’s inhabitants are all seen as so dumb by these arrogant whackos that it is assumed that none of us are capable of making a rational decision about our future and the earth’s future climate.
The decision on the type of climate thats wanted or whether anybody , repeat “anybody” should actually be messing with the global climate, by that ignorant mob of global peasants is that they just might not agree with and might take really strong exception to the “Climate Scientist’s Scientific Consensus on Global Climate Modification ” that the earth’s climate has to be changed, cooled down and controlled as laid down by the tiny select cabal of those great and infinitely knowledgeable and infinitely wise, computer literate “Climate Scientists.”
And full on opposition from all those global inhabitants would show those infinitely wise and infinitely knowledgeable Climate Scientists in a very bad light indeed and they might even lose their lavish funding and their computer games consoles.
A true disaster that would be!
So don’t ever let all those 6.7 billion ignorant global peasants out there have any say about climate modification even if it kills them as that will cause all sorts of problems for the great and the good in Climate Science!
[/sarc! ]


“The Carnegie researchers started out differently by asking how, if people decided what kind of climate they want, they would go about determining the aerosol distribution pattern that would come closest to achieving their climate goals.”
Had to throw in my $0.02 worth. I agree with you guys. The statement above has to be the most…I mean what do you say to such idiocy? It’s hard to frame it in my mind, any way you slice it. Unfortunately some people will read it and think, “…hmmmm, veeeerrrry interesting…” Just like Colonel Klink on the old ‘Hogan’s Hero’s’ TV sit-com here in the US.
The root of the problem is painfully obvious though, allow me to enlighten all:
US manufacturing is no longer globally competetive, most large companies having moved over-seas. These people are only qualified, mentally, to work on an assembly line…one mass producing shoe-strings.


I vote that we end this stupid ice age and return to the climate of the Holocene optimum.