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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  11 Aug 2020

11 Aug 2020

Review status
This preprint is currently under review for the journal ESD.

Expanding the Design Space of Stratospheric Aerosol Geoengineering to Include Precipitation-Based Objectives and Explore Trade-offs

Walker Lee1, Douglas MacMartin1, Daniele Visioni1, and Ben Kravitz2,3 Walker Lee et al.
  • 1Sibley School for Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA
  • 2Department of Earth and Atmospheric Science, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA
  • 3Atmospheric Sciences and Global Change Division, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, USA

Abstract. Previous climate modeling studies demonstrate the ability of feedback-regulated, stratospheric aerosol geoengineering with injection at multiple independent latitudes to meet multiple simultaneous temperature-based objectives in the presence of anthropogenic climate change. However, the impacts of climate change are not limited to rising temperatures, but also include changes in precipitation, loss of sea ice, and many more; knowing how a given geoengineering strategy will affect each of these climate metrics is vital to understanding the limits and trade-offs of geoengineering. In this study, we first introduce a new method of visualizing the design space in which desired climate outcomes are represented by 2-D surfaces on a 3-D graph. Surface orientations represent how different injection choices influence that objective, and intersecting surfaces represent objectives which can be met simultaneously. Using this representation as a guide, we present simulations of two new strategies for feedback-regulated aerosol injection, using the Community Earth System Model with the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model CESM1 (WACCM). The first simultaneously manages global mean temperature, tropical precipitation centroid, and Arctic sea ice extent, while the second manages global mean precipitation, tropical precipitation centroid, and Arctic sea ice extent. Both simulations control the tropical precipitation centroid to within 5 % of the goal, and the latter controls global mean precipitation to within 1 % of the goal. Additionally, the first simulation over-compensates sea ice, while the second under-compensates sea ice; all of these results are consistent with the expectations of our design space model. In addition to showing that precipitation-based climate metrics can be managed using feedback alongside other goals, our simulations validate the utility of our design space visualization in predicting our climate model behavior under a given geoengineering strategy, and together they help illustrate the fundamental limits and trade-offs of stratospheric aerosol geoengineering.

Walker Lee et al.

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Walker Lee et al.

Walker Lee et al.


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Latest update: 29 Sep 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The injection of aerosols into the stratosphere to reflect sunlight could reduce global warming, but this type of geoengineering would also impact other variables like precipitation and sea ice. In this study, we model various climate impacts of geoengineering on a 3-D graph to show how trying to meet one climate goal will affect other variables. We also present two computer simulations which validate our model and show that geoengineering could regulate precipitation as well as temperature.
The injection of aerosols into the stratosphere to reflect sunlight could reduce global warming,...