Investigating the Climatic Impacts of Stratospheric Aerosol Injection
Jones, Anthony Crawford
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
In this thesis, we assess various climatic impacts of stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI), a geoengineering proposal that aims to cool Earth by enhancing the sunlight-reflecting aerosol layer in the lower stratosphere. To this end, we employ simpleradiative transfer models, a detailed radiative transfer code (SOCRATES), and two Hadley Centre general circulation models (HadGEM2-CCS and HadGEM2-ES). We find that the use of a light-absorbing aerosol (black carbon) for SAI would result in significant stratospheric warming and an unprecedented weakening of the hydrological cycle. Conversely, we find that SAI with sulphate or titania aerosol could counteract many of the extreme climate changes exhibited by a business-as-usual scenario (RCP8.5) by the end of this century. In a separate investigation, we show that volcanic aerosol dispersion following low-altitude volcanic eruptions can exhibit high sensitivity to the ambient weather state. Volcanic aerosol may get 'trapped' in a single hemisphere or transported to the opposite hemisphere depending simply on the meteorological conditions on the day of the eruption. In a final study, we investigate the impacts of SAI on North Atlantic tropical storm frequency. We find that SAI exclusively promoted in the southern hemisphere would increase North Atlantic storm frequency, and vice versa for northern hemisphere SAI. The results of this thesis should promote further research into SAI, which could conceivably be deployed to maintain global-mean temperature below the COP21 target of +1.5 K above pre-industrial levels, whilst society transitions onto a sustainable energy pathway. Conversely, the possibility of SAI being weaponised, for instance, to specifically increase North Atlantic tropical storm frequency, should motivate policymakers to implement effective regulation and governance to deter unilateral SAI deployments.
Met Office / Natural Environment Research Council
Jones, A. C., et al. (2016), Climatic impacts of stratospheric geoengineering with sulfate, black carbon and titania injection, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 5, 2843- 2862. doi:10.5194/acp-16-2843-2016
Jones, A. C., et al. (2016), Sensitivity of volcanic aerosol dispersion to meteorological conditions: A Pinatubo case study, J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 121, 6892-6908. doi:10.1002/2016JD025001.
PhD in Mathematics