GLOBAL WARMING (MELTING RATE & A(B)DSORPTION)

Added on Feb 3rd, 2015

A documentary shown in PBS yesterday about Global Warming  made me wonder about how the world would be, if the water level were to increase by 3 feet by the end of 21st century. Though we have this constant debate whether the global warming is transitory and is part of the normal phase of the earth cycle or it is due more to man-made events, irrespective of which way the debate goes, any such increase in sea level is going to be catastrophic in various parts of the world, and needs to be addressed on an ongoing basis. We also need to understand that the rate of increase in ghg emissions has not been seen to the levels seen before, suggesting that man-made events are also playing an important role in global warming.

After watching the video, I was thinking of some ideas, which might have already been tried. If yes, please see whether any useful information can be drawn from those previous studies. If not, it would be a worthwhile exploratory study (meaning - small scale testing).

1. In the documentary, there was a mention about heat transfer rate and how melting of ice results in liquid-solid interface, which speeds up the melting process. Are there environmentally friendly particles, which can reduce the heat transfer rate on the ice surface, thus reducing the melting rate? It may not be viable considering surface area to cover, but could act as a seeding agent for other ideas. (I prefer heat transfer rate control more at the surface level rather than using particle science in the atmosphere)

2. Along the same lines, ice is known to show various morphological forms. Can we engineer the morphology of the ice to a more stable form for it to become more heat resistant?

3. To botanists and biologists, are there plants and/or trees in the flora landscape that have higher tendency to take in carbon dioxide? If yes, how feasible would it be to have those plants/trees grown near industries with high ghg emissions? If not, would it be possible to genetically engineer such plants/trees?

Note: Personally, I believe that it is better not to play with nature excessively. At the same time, considering the overall good that can come out of limiting/reducing carbon emissions, I have put forth the suggestion to genetically modify plants/trees. It is also the last option in my list. Further, soil erosion has become a concern in many parts of the world, and having more trees can limit soil erosion and mud slides in addition to limiting radiative forcing. Optimizing population density across the globe could optimize land use, and might reduce radiative forcing.

4. To Chemists & Chemical Engineers, this appears to be an obvious solution for experts in this area. Conversion to bicarbonate from CO2.  Any insight in this regard?

5. Zeolites and other silicate based polymers are known to be effective adsorbents of CO2. What is the efficacy of such techniques in the real world?

6. Would more uniform emission of ghg (thus, limiting bubbles and bursts with consumer demand) provide planet earth more time to adapt to change, and reduce the pace of global warming?

7. Would localized increase in ghg emissions result in more disruption to planet earth? 

8. WIth increase in sea water levels, it would result in dilution of salt concentration (can impact depression of freezing point - colligative properties), which in turn can impact weather patterns. Would it be possible to build large vacuum evaporators across the globe to evaporate water as the water levels increase rather than waiting until the water level increases considerably? 

9. Can there be more desalination plants across coastal areas to exploit increasing water levels, and to meet potable water needs?

10. If there were to be significant difference in melting rate between summer and winter times, can the evaporated water (suggested in #8) be re-cooled during the winter months?

11. Can any of the ice formed under different conditions be used as a seed to re-crystallize specific crystallographic forms of ice that might be more stable to melting?

Reference:

Updated: 2/17/15

NOTE: Some of the above suggestions revolve around the area of geo-engineering. As with any technological innovation, technological innovations revolving around geo-engineering can be misused. Moreover, amount of information available in this area is limited. For that reason, careful and gradual progress in this area looking at the overall impact on the ecosystem is essential with global oversight. IPCC through UN should play an important role in this process (Involvement of UN is essential when it pertains to decisions revolving around global warming, and also energy related innovations in order to achieve global optimal).

After watching a discussion forum on TV, I observed that even "experts" have misconceptions about global warming. Global warming is not just about increasing sea levels, but global warming has the ability to impact weather patterns even in inland areas. Hence, there needs to be proactive action taken across the globe.


Pie chart that shows different types of gases. 57 percent is from carbon dioxide fossil fuel use. 17 percent is from carbon dioxide deforestation, decay of biomass, etc. 3 percent is from other carbon dioxide sources. 14 percent is from methane. 8 percent is from nitrous oxide and 1 percent is from fluorinated gases.                                                                                           Pie chart that shows different sectors. 26 percent is from energy supply; 13 percent is from transport; 8 percent is from residential and commercial buildings; 19 percent is from industry; 14 percent is from agriculture; 17 percent is from forestry; and 3 percent is from waste and wastewater.

References

1. An atlas of pollution: the world in carbon dioxide emissions - http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/jan/31/world-carbon-dioxide-emissions-country-data-co2
23. IPCC (2007). Climate Change 2007. Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group



Extracted from reference 12 -  TREATING PATIENT EARTH 

“I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures that are required, avoiding those twin traps of over-treatment and therapeutic nihilism.” Hippocrates

* Modern version of the Hippocratic oath, Louis Lasagna, 1964, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/doctors/oath_modern.html



Added on April 7th, 2015 - Interesting references on genetic engineering:



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