Carbonyl sulfide: No remedy for global warming

Steven J. Taubman, James F. Kasting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The enhancement of the stratospheric aerosol layer caused by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo (June 15, 1991), and the subsequent cooling of the earth's lower atmosphere [Dutton and Christy, 1992; Minnis et al., 1993] shows that stratospheric aerosols can have a strong effect on the earth's climate. This supports the notion that the intentional enhancement of the stratospheric aerosol layer through increased carbonyl sulfide (OCS) emissions might be an effective means for counteracting global warming. Through the use of a one‐dimensional photochemical model, we investigate what effect such a program might have on global average stratospheric ozone. In addition, we consider the impact of enhanced OCS emissions on rainwater acidity and on the overall health of both plants and animals. We find that while the warming produced by a single CO2 doubling (1 to 4°C) might be offset with ozone losses of less than 5%, any attempt to use carbonyl sulfide as a permanent solution to global warming could result in depletion of global average ozone by 30% or more. We estimate that in order to achieve cooling of 4°C rainwater pH would fall to between 3.5 and 3.8. Finally, a 4°C cooling at the surface will require that ambient near ground OCS levels rise to above 10 ppmv which is probably greater than the safe exposure limit for humans. Thus, enhanced OCS emissions do not provide an environmentally acceptable solution to the problem of global warming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)803-805
Number of pages3
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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