solar panels Bloomberg/Getty Images

Richting een planeet die meer reflecteert

CAMBRIDGE – De laatste keer dat er zich zoveel CO² in de atmosfeer bevond als op dit moment was ongeveer drie miljoen jaar geleden – een tijdperk waarin de zeeniveaus tien tot dertig meter hoger lagen dan nu. Klimaatmodellen hebben er lange tijd mee geworsteld om deze grote fluctuaties in zeeniveaus te dupliceren – tot nu toe. Voor de eerste keer is een model van hoge kwaliteit van de Antarctische ijskap en zijn klimaat in staat gebleken om deze grote verschuivingen te simuleren. Dit is baanbrekende wetenschap, maar brengt ontluisterend nieuws.

Het nieuwe model laat zien dat alleen al het smelten van het Antarctische ijs de mondiale zeeniveaus aan het eind van deze eeuw tot een meter zou kunnen doen stijgen – veel meer dan  eerdere schattingen. Nog erger is dat het suggereert dat zelfs een uitmuntend succes in het terugdringen van de uitstoot de West-Antarctische ijskap niet zal kunnen redden, wat uiteindelijke zeespiegelstijgingen van meer dan vijf meter kan inhouden. Een meter kan al hele steden, van Miami tot Mumbai, in gevaar brengen en enorme economische ontwrichting teweegbrengen.

We moeten de verwarming zachter zetten – en snel. Tot dit doel draagt albedo-modificatie - een type geo-engineering bedoeld om de planeet af te koelen door het vergroten van de reflectie de atmosfeer – enorme beloften in zich.

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