Earlier this year a group of thinkers around the world gathered at Chicheley Hall outside of London to talk about how to stop global climate change. Their almost universal conclusion was that, at this point, geoengineering is our only viable option. Now a group at Bristol University in the UK has embarked on an experiment — the first of its kind — to create a fake volcano that would help reflect the rays of the sun back into space and away from the Earth’s atmosphere.

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Historically, large volcanic eruptions have caused great disturbances in the Earth’s climate patterns. After the Mount Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines in June 1991 the global temperature fell on average about half a degree centigrade. This phenomenon was once even observed by Benjamin Franklin after the Laki fissure system eruptions in 1783 when he noticed, “a constant fog over all Europe, and [a] great part of North America,” a cold summer and an early frost that year. Scientists at the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Oxford, together with Marshall Aerospace are embarking on an experiment to see whether humans can engineer this phenomenon.

The technology test, led by Dr Hugh Hunt from the University of Cambridge, which will begin shortly, involves pumping water through a tube strung up 1/2 a mile into the atmosphere by a helium-filled balloon over a period of time. The scientists involved in the test will then observe how weather patterns and time affect the balloon and tube, and extract how that might affect the same delivery system of particles into the stratosphere at an altitude of 20km.

Geoengineering isn’t universally accepted by the public — and not even by all scientists — because of the possible, unknown side effects. Because of this worry, the Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering (or SPICE) project has a multidisciplinary panel of experts in place to help the team tease out all of the direct and indirect effects of the project.

Via Telegraph UK