22 Jul 2022
22 Jul 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESD.

Northern high-latitude permafrost and terrestrial carbon response to solar geoengineering

Yangxin Chen1, Duoying Ji1, Qian Zhang1, John C. Moore1,2,3, Olivier Boucher4, Andy Jones5, Thibaut Lurton4, Michael J. Mills7, Ulrike Niemeier8, Roland Séférian6, and Simone Tilmes7 Yangxin Chen et al.
  • 1College of Global Change and Earth System Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China
  • 2CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 3Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland
  • 4Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace, Sorbonne Université/CNRS, Paris, France
  • 5Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, EX1 3PB, UK
  • 6CNRM, Université de Toulouse, Météo-France, CNRS, Toulouse, France
  • 7Atmospheric Chemistry, Observations, and Modeling Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 8Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany

Abstract. The northern high-latitude permafrost contains almost twice the carbon content of the atmosphere, and it is widely considered as a non-linear and tipping element in the Earth's climate system under global warming. Solar geoengineering is a means of mitigating temperature rise and reduce some of the associated climate impacts by increasing the planetary albedo, including permafrost thaw. We analyze the permafrost response as simulated by five earth system models (ESMs) under four future scenarios; two solar geoengineering scenarios (G6solar and G6sulfur) restore the global temperature from the high emission scenario (ssp585) levels to the moderate mitigation scenario (ssp245) levels via solar dimming and stratospheric aerosol injection. G6solar and G6sulfur nearly restore the northern high-latitude permafrost area from ssp585 levels to those under ssp245. But deeper active layer thickness and more exposed unfrozen soil organic carbon are produced due to robust residual high-latitude warming, especially over Eurasia. However, G6solar and G6sulfur accumulate more soil carbon over the northern high-latitude permafrost region due to enhanced CO2 fertilization effects relative to ssp245 and weakened heterotrophic respiration relative to ssp585. The asynchronous changes in soil carbon inputs and soil carbon decomposition directly result from decoupling of temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentration under solar geoengineering. The permafrost ecosystem remains a carbon sink throughout this century under all four scenarios, and solar geoengineering can delay the transition of northern high-latitude permafrost ecosystem from carbon sink to carbon source.

Yangxin Chen et al.

Status: open (until 06 Sep 2022)

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Yangxin Chen et al.

Yangxin Chen et al.


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Short summary
Solar geoengineering has been proposed as a way of counteracting the warming effects of increasing greenhouse gases by reflecting solar radiation. This work shows the solar geoengineering can slow down the northern high-latitude permafrost degradation, but can not preserve the permafrost ecosystem as that under a climate of the same warming level without solar geoengineering.