Scientists Want To Refreeze The North And South Poles, But At What Cost?

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Photo 19674149 © Erectus | Dreamstime.com

By now, you would be well aware that the poles are fast losing their ice shelves. Such events could cause irreversible harm to the planet, including the rising of sea levels and the temperature of the globe which won’t be able to be lowered.

In order to counteract this devastation, some scientists are thinking of refreeze the North and South Poles. The study was published in IOP’s Environmental Research Communications journal and was led by Wake Smith from Yale University. 

According to a plan known as the Stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI) operation, the objective is to send fighter jets up near the atmosphere and spray it with microscopic aerosols.

A fleet of 125 SAIL-43Ks are to be deployed approximately 43,000 feet into the air, where they will release microscopic sulfur dioxide. This could potentially reduce temperatures by up to two degrees each year and return places such as the Arctic Circle, the tip of Patagonia, and Anchorage back to pre-industrial temperatures.

In order to get these planes off the ground, the team suggests using commercial air bases, like one in Anchorage, that would help them get as close as possible to their target mark.

The SAI operation is also a cheaper alternative to all the current measures in place. The total amount is estimated at US$11 billion, which is only a third of the cost being spent right now to cool the earth.

If all goes well, this could potentially stop the seas from rising and sulfur dioxide would act somewhat like a shade over the planet. 

Unfortunately, there are a few setbacks.

The first is that in order for the project to be successful, it would take roughly 175,000 flights in total. That is equivalent to one-third of the number of annual flights leaving New York’s JFK airport to get the right amount of microscopic particles into the atmosphere.

Secondly, in order for existing air bases to accommodate such an operation, they would need to be severely enhanced.

And lastly, it is still unknown what the prolonged effects of injecting our atmosphere with sulfur dioxide will be. 

In a report by Sky News, Smith does note that this should not replace all the efforts being made, and that it is just a quick solution for the time being. 

This may all sound like a plot from a post-apocalyptic movie, but it just goes to show how drastic circumstances have become. If anything, this is a wakeup call that proper action needs to be taken before we have to resort to such extremities. 

[via Sky News and Interesting Engineering, Photo 19674149 © Erectus | Dreamstime.com

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