IELTS Academic Reading Practice 5

 
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This reading practice simulates one part of the IELTS Academic Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage and answer questions 15-26.

Questions 15-20

Complete the table below.  

Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in 15-20 on your answer sheet.

Problem Solution or result
Gas emissions Promises made to reduce gas emissions Use of geoengineering
Planetary Sunshades come back to this planet Mist is used to bounce sunlight back
Planetary Sunshades A on the amount of rain Intensification of the
Stratospheric aerosol injection Gives no protection from Introduction of atomized liquid into the atmosphere
Geoengineering Does not prevent heating in
Questions 21-26

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 21-26 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE   if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE   if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN   if there is no information on this

21. One theory is that energy from the sun is reflected away from Earth’s atmosphere
22. Scientists are convinced that a man-made protective layer would remain in place permanently
23. Geoengineering could reduce the number of tropical storms
24. The emissions from active volcanoes causes an increase in rainfall
25. An atmospheric barrier would not protect the earth from an increase in greenhouse gas
26. In the future increased research into geoengineering is planned

Answer Sheet
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
N/A
14
N/A
15
N/A
16
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17
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18
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19
N/A
20
N/A
21
N/A
22
N/A
23
N/A
24
N/A
25
N/A
26
N/A
27
N/A
28
N/A
29
N/A
30
N/A
31
N/A
32
N/A
33
N/A
34
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35
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36
N/A
37
N/A
38
N/A
39
N/A
40
N/A


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Geoengineering

Under the Paris Agreement, governments have pledged to keep average global warming to “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to try to limit maximum warming to 1.5°C. Many see these targets as wishful thinking: the planet is already roughly 1°C warmer than it was in pre-industrial times, global greenhouse gas emissions are still on the rise and national pledges to cut them fall short of what is needed to hit the 2°C target, let alone 1.5°C.

Faced with this, some think there is a need to turn down the global thermostat using geoengineering. This encompasses a range of possibilities, including technologies that suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and others that block incoming solar energy. One concern, however, is that these methods do not deal with the cause of the problem: greenhouse-gas emissions.

Among the most controversial but also effective and affordable geoengineering options are planetary sunshades. By using high-flying aircraft, for instance, to spray a fine mist of mineral or man-made particles into the upper stratosphere, a portion of the sun’s incoming energy could be bounced back out into space before it gets a chance to warm the planet. The decades-old idea is inspired by large volcanic eruptions, like that of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991, which cooled global temperatures by up to 0.5°C for four years. That event demonstrated that relatively simple sunshades could have a significant effect on global temperatures. Indeed, while climate models project that doubling the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could cause between 1.5°C and 4°C of global warming, the models also suggest that it is theoretically possible to reduce temperatures by an equal amount using a sunshade.

But there are challenges. Stratospheric particles eventually fall back to Earth in rain, so the effect is short-lived. A sunshade would need to be continually resupplied, which is one reason for an international governance framework. If a sunshade were allowed to dissipate while atmospheric CO2 concentrations remained high, global temperatures would rapidly shoot up, with devastating consequences in some regions of the world.  Another problem is the effect of solar geoengineering on the water cycle. Over the past decade, several studies have suggested that sunshades could disproportionately affect rainfall, bringing drought to some regions. But that argument may be oversimplified, according to the new study published in Nature Climate Change .

So far, most studies have modelled a “fully” geoengineered world in which CO2 concentrations are doubled compared with current or pre-industrial levels, and all the resulting warming is counterbalanced by a stratospheric sunshade. Instead, Peter Irvine of Harvard University and his colleagues simulated a partial sunshade. They were able to eliminate half the warming effect of doubled CO2 concentrations while stabilising the water cycle. In a warmer world, due to greenhouse gas emissions, the water cycle is intensified, making drier regions drier and wetter regions wetter, leading to floods and droughts. In their modelled “half-warmed” world, Dr Irvine and his colleagues found that both temperature and precipitation extremes were moderated, which should lead to fewer droughts and floods. The team also looked at how solar geoengineering would affect tropical cyclones. Doubling CO2 concentrations compared with present-day levels increased the cumulative intensity of all tropical cyclones by 17.6%. The partial sunshade brought that increase down to 2.4%. Limitations in the model made it impossible to see if this benefit was equally distributed across different regions, such as the Pacific and the Atlantic.

Another geoengineering option is to spray aerosols high in the stratosphere - a technique known as “stratospheric aerosol injection” – could cool the planet in a similar way to a large volcanic eruption. When a volcano erupts, it sends an ash cloud high into the atmosphere. The sulphur dioxide released in the plume combines with water to form sulfuric acid aerosols, which reflect away incoming sunlight, temporarily cooling the Earth. Artificially introducing aerosols into the atmosphere – via a plane or a high-altitude balloon – could have a similar cooling effect. The idea has never been tested, but previous research using computer simulations suggests that releasing aerosols could help limit global temperature rise to 1.5C. However, an aerosol sunshade would not protect the planet from rising CO2 emissions – which is causing oceans to become more acidic and crops to become less nutritious, among other problems.

The new study, published in Nature Geoscience, identifies, for the first time, another potential downfall of the proposed technique: it may not be able to limit warming in the deep ocean. This is because aerosol release could cause rainfall to decrease in some regions, which could influence ocean circulation patterns. The explanation involves two key stages. In the first, the aerosols reduce the amount of rainfall that occurs globally. This change in rainfall is not uniform, rather, reductions are larger in some key regions – namely, the northern Atlantic Ocean – and this increases the salinity of those ocean areas, making the water more dense. This increase in water density could cause the “Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation” (AMOC) to speed up, The AMOC is a perpetual conveyor belt that transports heat from the equator up to the North Atlantic. It is part of a wider network of global ocean circulations patterns that transports heat all around the world.

The idea of engineering the climate in order to limit sunlight has been debated by scientists and politicians for more than 50 years, but – apart from studies based on computer simulations – very little field research has been carried out. Some fear that a geoengineered world could come with its own set of environmental and societal challenges, which they say could be comparable to – or even worse than – climate change.

Reading Passage Vocabulary
Geoengineering

Under the Paris Agreement, governments have pledged to keep average global warming to “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to try to limit maximum warming to 1.5°C. Many see these targets as wishful thinking: the planet is already roughly 1°C warmer than it was in pre-industrial times, global greenhouse gas emissions are still on the rise and national pledges to cut them fall short of what is needed to hit the 2°C target, let alone 1.5°C.

Faced with this, some think there is a need to turn down the global thermostat using geoengineering. This encompasses a range of possibilities, including technologies that suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and others that block incoming solar energy. One concern, however, is that these methods do not deal with the cause of the problem: greenhouse-gas emissions.

Among the most controversial but also effective and affordable geoengineering options are planetary sunshades. By using high-flying aircraft, for instance, to spray a fine mist of mineral or man-made particles into the upper stratosphere, a portion of the sun’s incoming energy could be bounced back out into space before it gets a chance to warm the planet. The decades-old idea is inspired by large volcanic eruptions, like that of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991, which cooled global temperatures by up to 0.5°C for four years. That event demonstrated that relatively simple sunshades could have a significant effect on global temperatures. Indeed, while climate models project that doubling the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could cause between 1.5°C and 4°C of global warming, the models also suggest that it is theoretically possible to reduce temperatures by an equal amount using a sunshade.

But there are challenges. Stratospheric particles eventually fall back to Earth in rain, so the effect is short-lived. A sunshade would need to be continually resupplied, which is one reason for an international governance framework. If a sunshade were allowed to dissipate while atmospheric CO2 concentrations remained high, global temperatures would rapidly shoot up, with devastating consequences in some regions of the world.  Another problem is the effect of solar geoengineering on the water cycle. Over the past decade, several studies have suggested that sunshades could disproportionately affect rainfall, bringing drought to some regions. But that argument may be oversimplified, according to the new study published in Nature Climate Change .

So far, most studies have modelled a “fully” geoengineered world in which CO2 concentrations are doubled compared with current or pre-industrial levels, and all the resulting warming is counterbalanced by a stratospheric sunshade. Instead, Peter Irvine of Harvard University and his colleagues simulated a partial sunshade. They were able to eliminate half the warming effect of doubled CO2 concentrations while stabilising the water cycle. In a warmer world, due to greenhouse gas emissions, the water cycle is intensified, making drier regions drier and wetter regions wetter, leading to floods and droughts. In their modelled “half-warmed” world, Dr Irvine and his colleagues found that both temperature and precipitation extremes were moderated, which should lead to fewer droughts and floods. The team also looked at how solar geoengineering would affect tropical cyclones. Doubling CO2 concentrations compared with present-day levels increased the cumulative intensity of all tropical cyclones by 17.6%. The partial sunshade brought that increase down to 2.4%. Limitations in the model made it impossible to see if this benefit was equally distributed across different regions, such as the Pacific and the Atlantic.

Another geoengineering option is to spray aerosols high in the stratosphere - a technique known as “stratospheric aerosol injection” – could cool the planet in a similar way to a large volcanic eruption. When a volcano erupts, it sends an ash cloud high into the atmosphere. The sulphur dioxide released in the plume combines with water to form sulfuric acid aerosols, which reflect away incoming sunlight, temporarily cooling the Earth. Artificially introducing aerosols into the atmosphere – via a plane or a high-altitude balloon – could have a similar cooling effect. The idea has never been tested, but previous research using computer simulations suggests that releasing aerosols could help limit global temperature rise to 1.5C. However, an aerosol sunshade would not protect the planet from rising CO2 emissions – which is causing oceans to become more acidic and crops to become less nutritious, among other problems.

The new study, published in Nature Geoscience, identifies, for the first time, another potential downfall of the proposed technique: it may not be able to limit warming in the deep ocean. This is because aerosol release could cause rainfall to decrease in some regions, which could influence ocean circulation patterns. The explanation involves two key stages. In the first, the aerosols reduce the amount of rainfall that occurs globally. This change in rainfall is not uniform, rather, reductions are larger in some key regions – namely, the northern Atlantic Ocean – and this increases the salinity of those ocean areas, making the water more dense. This increase in water density could cause the “Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation” (AMOC) to speed up, The AMOC is a perpetual conveyor belt that transports heat from the equator up to the North Atlantic. It is part of a wider network of global ocean circulations patterns that transports heat all around the world.

The idea of engineering the climate in order to limit sunlight has been debated by scientists and politicians for more than 50 years, but – apart from studies based on computer simulations – very little field research has been carried out. Some fear that a geoengineered world could come with its own set of environmental and societal challenges, which they say could be comparable to – or even worse than – climate change.

 
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