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Enfriar el planeta haciéndolo más reflectivo

CAMBRIDGE – La última vez que la atmósfera contuvo tanto dióxido de carbono como hoy fue hace unos tres millones de años. En esa época, el nivel del mar era entre diez y treinta metros superior al actual. Los científicos llevan mucho tiempo tratando de reproducir esas grandes fluctuaciones del nivel marino mediante modelos climáticos, sin lograrlo. Pero ahora por primera vez, un modelo de gran calidad de la relación entre el clima y el hielo de la Antártida pudo simular esas oscilaciones. Es ciencia de la mejor, pero trae noticias devastadoras.

El nuevo modelo muestra que solo el derretimiento del hielo antártico puede provocar a fines de este siglo hasta un metro de aumento del nivel global del mar, mucho más que estimaciones previas. Para peor, sugiere que incluso una reducción extraordinaria de las emisiones no bastará para salvar la placa de hielo de la Antártida occidental, lo que a la larga garantiza un aumento del nivel marino de más de cinco metros. Ya un metro de subida basta para poner en riesgo ciudades enteras, de Miami a Mumbai, y causar enormes desbarajustes económicos.

Tenemos que bajar la temperatura, y pronto. A tal fin, hay una idea muy promisoria: la modificación del albedo, un tipo de geoingeniería que busca enfriar el planeta aumentando la reflectividad de la atmósfera terrestre.

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