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Mar 29, 2017 10:54 AM EDT

Harvard Scientists Lead Largest Geoengineering Study; Project Aims to Mitigate Temperature Rise

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Harvard Scientists Lead Largest Geoengineering Study
Harvard aims to seed aerosols into the atmosphere in an attempt to mitigate climate change in what is to be the biggest geoengineering study in history.
(Photo : Photo by William B. Plowman/Getty Images )

A new project by Harvard aims to seed aerosols into the atmosphere in an attempt to mitigate climate change in what is considered to be the biggest geoengineering study in history. The technique will simulate the cooling effects brought to the atmosphere by a large volcanic eruption. However, the experiment raises concerns among a lot of people considering the fact that the widespread manipulation of the elements brings unpredictable effects.

The small-scale experiments are conducted by Harvard for a budget of $20 million, IFL Science reported. The geoengineering study will send aerosol injections to the stratosphere up to a height of 20 kilometers. It will reflect the sun and hopefully bring the cooling effect that volcanic eruption does serving as a latch ditch to mitigate climate change in the future.

The Harvard scientists will carry out two small-scale dispersal tests by 2022, Futurism reported. The first dispersal will send water to the stratosphere, and the second will send calcium carbonate particles. If these tests prove successful, they will be dispersing aluminum oxide or diamonds to the upper levels of the atmosphere in the future.

These techniques are based on the natural alterations to the normal radiation balance in Earth after a big volcanic eruption occurs. One of the best example is the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, where the global temperature went down by 9.5 degrees Celsius. However, the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia brought crop failure, famine, and disease, and it brought a year without summer in Europe.

The experiments may bring benefits, but a lot of people from the scientific community fears that it may also bring adverse effects. They fear that this project might become uncontrollable. Daniel P. Schrag, who is a professor at Harvard, admitted that it may cause terrifying effects if things go wrong. They are now gathering as much information as they could, and are trying to quantify aspects fast.

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