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Possible Mitigation of Global Cooling due to Supervolcanic Eruption via Intentional Release of Fluorinated Gases
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  • Yangyang Xu,
  • Nathanael Philip Ribar,
  • Gunnar W Schade,
  • Andrew John Lockley,
  • Yi Ge Zhang,
  • Jeffrey Sachnik,
  • Pengfei Yu,
  • Jianxin Hu,
  • Guus J.M. Velders
Yangyang Xu

Corresponding Author:yangyang.xu@tamu.edu

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Nathanael Philip Ribar
Texas A&M University
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Gunnar W Schade
Texas A&M University
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Andrew John Lockley
Andrew Lockley
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Yi Ge Zhang
Texas A&M University
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Jeffrey Sachnik
Texas A&M University
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Pengfei Yu
Institute for Environmental and Climate Research, Jinan University
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Jianxin Hu
Peking University
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Guus J.M. Velders
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Supervolcanic eruptions induced abrupt global cooling (roughly at a rate of ~1ºC/year lasting for years to decades), such as the prehistoric Yellowstone eruption released, by some estimates, SO2 about 100 times higher than the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption. An abrupt global cooling of several ºC, even if only lasting a few years, would present immediate and drastic stress on biodiversity and food production - posing a global catastrophic risk to human society. Using a simple climate model, this paper discusses the possibility of counteracting supervolcanic cooling with the intentional release of greenhouse gases. Although well-known longer-lived compounds such as CO2 and CH₄ are found to be unsuitable for this purpose, select fluorinated gases (F-gases), either individually or in combinations, may be released at gigaton scale to offset most of the supervolcanic cooling. We identify candidate F-gases (viz. C4F6 and CH3F) and derive radiative and chemical properties of ‘ideal’ compounds matching specific cooling events. Geophysical constraints on manufacturing and stockpiling due to mineral availability are considered alongside technical and economic implications based on present-day market assumptions. The consequences of F-gas release in perturbing atmospheric chemistry are discussed in the context of those due to the supervolcanic eruption itself. The conceptual analysis here suggests the possibility of mitigating certain global catastrophic risks via intentional intervention.
10 May 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
13 May 2023Published in ESS Open Archive