A large balloon will be released in Sweden this summer near the Arctic town of Kiruna aiming to reach an altitude of 12 miles in the first serious attempt to explore whether global warming could be kept in check by dimming the sun.
The balloon will drop particles of calcium carbonate chalk dust, essentially to see if releasing them into the stratosphere could eventually deflect a portion of the sun’s energy and lower temperatures on Earth.
The first test of a project backed to spray millions of tonnes of chalk into the stratosphere, in an attempt to ‘dim the sun’ and cool the Earth, could happen in June.
Harvard University experts will test the system by sending a large balloon 12 miles above the Swedish town of Kiruna and have it drop 2kg of chalk dust into the stratosphere.
The aim of the estimated $3 million mission, backed by billionaire Bill Gates, is to have the chalk deflect a portion of the sun’s radiation, stop it from hitting the surface, and cool the planet.
The idea has been heavily criticised since its inception, with project director Frank Keutsch even calling the need for this scale of geo-engineering ‘terrifying’.
And experts have warned that the unusual technique could be disastrous for weather systems in ways nobody can predict.
Backed by a range of private donors including Gates, the test mission is launching from Sweden as they could offer a launch by the end of this summer.