Stadium-sized artificial floating volcano aims to fix Earth’s climate. What’s next?

Climatologists are about to embark on a major experiment in geoengineering — where humans deliberately manipulate the Earth’s natural systems to offset the impacts of climate change — with an artificial volcano floating miles above the Earth.

Volcanoes belch chemical particles into the atmosphere, which reflect solar radiation and reduce surface temperatures on the planet. Researchers from various UK universities want to mimic this activity by spraying out sulphate aerosol particles from a 20km-high, stadium-sized balloon.

It might sound like the barmy plan of a comic supervillian, but the concept is serious. The Cambridge, Oxford, Reading and Bristol universities’ SPICE proposal — aka Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering — received a £1.6 million government grant and EPSRC backing in 2010.

Now, the British engineers are nearly ready to put their plan into fruition, andThe Guardian notes that the team will carry out its first field test in October. The opening experiment will be seriously scaled down — just 0.6km high, a smaller balloon and water droplets instead of sulphate — to see if the plan is even feasible.

In its secret location out at sea, the water-spewing balloon will be connected to a ship by a tethered hosepipe. This will feed those water droplets to the buoyant, geoengineering zeppelin in the sky. If the plan works, the team will move onto bigger balloons, higher altitude and — eventually — sulphate aerosol particles.  (source: wired.co.uk)