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Harvard has halted its long-planned atmospheric geoengineering experiment – After ‘years of controversy & the departure of one of the program’s key researchers’

Harvard has halted its long-planned atmospheric geoengineering experiment

The decision follows years of controversy and the departure of one of the program’s key researchers.

The basic concept behind solar geoengineering is that the world might be able to counteract global warming by spraying tiny particles in the atmosphere that could scatter sunlight.

The plan for the Harvard experiments was to launch a high-altitude balloon, equipped with propellers and sensors, that could release a few kilograms of calcium carbonate, sulfuric acid or other materials high above the planet. It would then turn around and fly through the plume to measure how widely the particles disperse, how much sunlight they reflect and other variables. The aircraft will now be repurposed for stratospheric research unrelated to solar geoengineering, according to the statement.




The Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx) is a scientific effort initiated by Professors David Keith and Frank Keutsch at Harvard University. SCoPEx was designed to measure the stratospheric behavior of aerosols in plumes to advance scientific knowledge relevant to potential future implementation of solar geoengineering.

In 2019, the University established an external advisory committee to provide guidance on SCoPEx. Today, the Advisory Committee issued its final report to the Vice Provost for Research and the Vice Provost for Climate and Sustainability, available here.

As the report indicates, in August 2023, the research team conveyed to the Advisory Committee that it had suspended work on SCoPEx. Today, the Principal Investigator of SCoPEx, Professor Frank Keutsch, announced that he is no longer pursuing the experiment. The platform developed for SCoPEx is expected to be repurposed for basic scientific research in the stratosphere unrelated to solar geoengineering.