A risk-based framework for assessing the effectiveness of stratospheric aerosol geoengineering
Ferraro, A. J., Charlton-Perez, A. J. and Highwood, E. J. (2014) A risk-based framework for assessing the effectiveness of stratospheric aerosol geoengineering. PLoS ONE, 9 (2). e88849. ISSN 1932-6203
To link to this article DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0088849
Geoengineering by stratospheric aerosol injection has been proposed as a policy response to warming from human emissions of greenhouse gases, but it may produce unequal regional impacts. We present a simple, intuitive risk-based framework for classifying these impacts according to whether geoengineering increases or decreases the risk of substantial climate change, with further classification by the level of existing risk from climate change from increasing carbon dioxide concentrations. This framework is applied to two climate model simulations of geoengineering counterbalancing the surface warming produced by a quadrupling of carbon dioxide concentrations, with one using a layer of sulphate aerosol in the lower stratosphere, and the other a reduction in total solar irradiance. The solar dimming model simulation shows less regional inequality of impacts compared with the aerosol geoengineering simulation. In the solar dimming simulation, 10% of the Earth’s surface area, containing 10% of its population and 11% of its gross domestic product, experiences greater risk of substantial precipitation changes under geoengineering than under enhanced carbon dioxide concentrations. In the aerosol geoengineering simulation the increased risk of substantial precipitation change is experienced by 42% of Earth’s surface area, containing 36% of its population and 60% of its gross domestic product.