The basic problem of global warming too much heat being trapped near the Earth's surface by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has inspired a range of ideas for far-fetched engineering solutions.
Among them is the injection of sulfur into the upper atmosphere, where it would act as a sort of chemical sunblock. The idea is that the Earth's climate has cooled significantly because of sulfur in the atmosphere, whether it was injected there in massive doses by volcanoes or bit by bit by industrial pollution (yes, some pollution has cooled the climate).
But scientists with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, have warned, according to Reuters, that injecting sulfur into the stratosphere would lead to the degradation of the Earth's ozone layer, the chemical shield that the world worked so hard to protect starting in the 1980s.
Similarly, a separate study from University of Colorado at Boulder, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA has found that a complete restoration of the ozone layer over Antarctica, where a hole in the ozone layer the size of the United States forms seasonally could speed the warming of the continent at the bottom of the world. Antarctica, unlike the Arctic, has showed inconsistent patterns of warming and cooling that have, in some cases, befuddled scientists trying to understand the climate and global warming.
"If the successful control of ozone-depleting substances allows for a full recovery of the ozone hole over Antarctica, we may finally see the interior of Antarctica begin to warm with the rest of the world," said Judith Perlwitz, the lead author of the study.
Already, there's great concern that record melting of the Arctic in the summer of 2007 is a harbinger of the quickening pace of global warming. The loss of sea ice can uncork glaciers, allowing them to slide and melt, raising sea levels. The same scenario could play out in Antarctica and is, but not consistently across the whole continent.
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