Geoengineering Is Changing Extratropical Cyclones Which Drive Most of The Earth’s Weather

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Geo­engi­neer­ing Is Chang­ing Extra­t­rop­i­cal Cyclones Which Dri­ve Most Of The Earth­’s Weather

Intense geo­engi­neer­ing activ­i­ty across the plan­et is influ­enc­ing weath­er pat­terns glob­al­ly to unprece­dent­ed lev­els. After study­ing one year of video on aerosols emis­sion and trans­port, NASA’s Jet Propul­sion Lab­o­ra­to­ry has found aerosol pol­lu­tion is chang­ing weath­er and cli­mate around the plan­et and strength­en­ing extra­t­rop­i­cal cyclones–a type of storm sys­tem that dri­ves much of the world’s weather.

This video above shows aerosol emis­sion and trans­port from Sep­tem­ber 1, 2006 to April 10, 2007. Cred­it: NASA God­dard Space Flight Center. 

Sci­en­tists call air­borne par­ti­cles of any sort — human-pro­duced or nat­ur­al — aerosols. How­ev­er, human-pro­duced aeros­als are now a top con­tribut­ing source of pol­lu­tion and a major con­cern, espe­cial­ly due to oper­a­tions by inter­na­tion­al gov­ern­ments through mil­i­tary air­craft which pol­lute the sky almost dai­ly to influ­ence cli­mate. The sim­plest effect of increas­ing aerosols is to increase clouds. To form clouds, air­borne water vapor needs par­ti­cles on which to con­dense. With more aerosols, there can be more or thick­er clouds. In a warm­ing world, that’s good. Sun­light bounces off cloud tops into space with­out ever reach­ing Earth’s sur­face, so we stay cool­er under cloud cover.

Pol­lu­tion doesn’t just pol­lute, it changes weath­er. Asia is home to the world’s 20 most pol­lut­ed cities, but that dirty air doesn’t stay put, as the above ani­ma­tion of aerosol emis­sions shows. How that pol­lu­tion spreads is entire­ly depen­dent on how weath­er sys­tems move it. Dif­fer­ent types of aerosols have dif­fer­ent effects, and the same aerosol can have dif­fer­ent effects depend­ing on how much is in the air and how high it is. Both aerosol emis­sions from oper­a­tions involv­ing mil­i­tary air­craft and soot par­ti­cles at cer­tain alti­tudes can cause cloud droplets to evap­o­rate, leav­ing noth­ing but haze. If there’s no water vapor in the air — the air is dry. At oth­er alti­tudes, this air pol­lu­tion can cause clouds to be deep­er and taller, pro­duc­ing heavy thun­der­storms or hail­storms. With so many pos­si­bil­i­ties, aerosols are one of the largest sources of uncer­tain­ty in pre­dict­ing the extent of future cli­mate change.

From com­put­er sys­tem mod­el­ing, many researchers know exact­ly how geo­engi­neer­ing is chang­ing glob­al weath­er pat­terns. Spray­ing large amounts of sul­phate aerosols into the stratos­phere is obscur­ing the vis­i­bil­i­ty of the sun’s rays and that is affect­ing all life on Earth. Rain­fall pat­terns are going hay­wire and there is a poten­tial that more mass dis­rup­tion to the ozone lay­er will occur.

Dur­ing the last 30 years, clouds over the Pacif­ic Ocean have grown deep­er, and storms in the North­west Pacif­ic have become about 10 per­cent stronger. JPL researcher Jonathan Jiang and his post­doc­tor­al fel­low, Yuan Wang, designed a series of exper­i­ments to see if there was a con­nec­tion between the two phe­nom­e­na and they found that aeros­al emis­sions are mak­ing mat­ters worse.

The researchers point­ed out that their work should raise even more red flags about aerosol-based geo­engi­neer­ing solu­tions and that inter­ven­tions in the Earth sys­tem intend­ed to coun­ter­act glob­al warm­ing may back­fire. Jiang and Wang found that sul­fates are the most effec­tive type of aerosol for deep­en­ing extra­t­rop­i­cal cyclones. Extra­t­rop­i­cal cyclones, some­times called mid-lat­i­tude cyclones or wave cyclones, are an every­day phe­nom­e­non which, along with anti­cy­clones, dri­ve the weath­er over much of the Earth. They are capa­ble of pro­duc­ing any­thing from cloudi­ness and mild show­ers to intense hail and thunderstorms.

Cyclones that hap­pen out­side the trop­ics can be con­nect­ed with volatile fronts and “baro­clin­ic zones” which may spell dis­as­ter for North Amer­i­ca. Ongo­ing aeros­al injec­tions will only bring more stormy win­ter weath­er glob­al­ly and will like­ly change the cli­mate in oth­er ways we can­not yet foresee.

Jiang and Wang used a numer­i­cal mod­el that includ­ed weath­er fac­tors such as tem­per­a­ture, pre­cip­i­ta­tion and baro­met­ric pres­sure over the Pacif­ic Ocean as well as aerosol trans­port — the move­ment of aerosols around the Earth. They did two sets of sim­u­la­tions. The first used aerosol con­cen­tra­tions thought to have exist­ed before the Indus­tri­al Rev­o­lu­tion. The oth­er used cur­rent aerosol emis­sions. The dif­fer­ence between the two sets showed the effects of increased pol­lu­tion on weath­er and climate.

Wang explained that increased pol­lu­tion makes more water con­dense onto aerosols in these storms. Dur­ing con­den­sa­tion, ener­gy is released in the form of heat. That heat adds to the roil­ing upward and down­ward air­flows with­in a cloud so that it grows deep­er and big­ger. It is cre­at­ing large storms which punc­tu­ate U.S. win­ters and springs about once a week, often pro­duc­ing heavy snow and intense cold.

Large, con­vec­tive weath­er sys­tems play a very impor­tant role in Earth’s atmos­pher­ic cir­cu­la­tion,” Jiang said, bring­ing trop­i­cal mois­ture up to the tem­per­ate lat­i­tudes. The storms form about once a week between 25 and 50 degrees north lat­i­tude and cross the Pacif­ic from the south­west to the north­east, pick­ing up Asia’s pol­lu­tant out­flow along the way.

Essen­tial­ly, geo­engi­neer­ing at very high alti­tudes is arti­fi­cial­ly mov­ing these weath­er sys­tems into areas which is affect­ing low and high pres­sure sys­tems to a greater degree affect­ing the upper-atmos­phere wind pat­terns and polar jet streams.

How much these cli­mate effects will increase in the com­ing decades is an open ques­tion. How much they can be reversed if emis­sions are reduced in also remains unclear.

It is evi­dent that cli­mate is dras­ti­cal­ly trans­form­ing and weath­er events are becom­ing more unsta­ble each year. This appears to be either the inten­tion­al or unin­ten­tion­al con­se­quence of geo­engi­neer­ing. Regard­less, the fore­cast although unpre­dictable, will cer­tain­ly pro­vide more extremes at all ends of the Earth.