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Stratospheric loading and radiative impacts from increased Al2O3 emission caused by an anticipated increase in satellite re-entry frequency

AIAA 2024-2169
Session: Impact of Space Activities on Climate and Atmosphere
Published Online:

We performed multiple thirty year simulations to investigate the potential atmospheric transport and radiative impacts from metallic aerosol emissions that could be released following the projected increase in satellite reentry frequency due to large Low Earth Orbit constellation deployments. Aluminum oxide was chosen as the likely primary emission from satellite reentry. The alumina was assumed to be emitted uniformly between 60 km and 70 km. Various emission patterns based on latitude and aerosol size were investigated. We find that aluminum oxide accumulates between 10 km and 30 km altitude and at high latitudes in both hemispheres. The time it takes for satellite reentry material to reach the poles equals roughly 5 to 24 months depending on the latitude of emissions and aerosol size. The radiative impact of the reentry aluminum oxide accumulation is small, on the order of several mW/m2. The associated stratospheric temperature perturbations are also small. Two emission scenarios produce statistically significant stratospheric temperature anomalies of a degree Kelvin or less over the southern hemisphere at high latitudes.