Harnessing stratospheric diffusion barriers for enhanced climate geoengineering.

Citation metadata

From: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics(Vol. 21, Issue 11)
Publisher: Copernicus GmbH
Document Type: Brief article
Length: 327 words

Document controls

Main content

Abstract :

Stratospheric sulfate aerosol geoengineering is a proposed method to temporarily intervene in the climate system to increase the reflectance of shortwave radiation and reduce mean global temperature. In previous climate modeling studies, choosing injection locations for geoengineering aerosols has, thus far, only utilized the average dynamics of stratospheric wind fields instead of accounting for the essential role of time-varying material transport barriers in turbulent atmospheric flows. Here we conduct the first analysis of sulfate aerosol dispersion in the stratosphere, comparing what is now a standard fixed-injection scheme with time-varying injection locations that harness short-term stratospheric diffusion barriers. We show how diffusive transport barriers can quickly be identified, and we provide an automated injection location selection algorithm using short forecast and reanalysis data. Within the first 7 d days of transport, the dynamics-based approach is able to produce particle distributions with greater global coverage than fixed-site methods with fewer injections. Additionally, this enhanced dispersion slows aerosol microphysical growth and can reduce the effective radii of aerosols up to 200-300 d after injection. While the long-term dynamics of aerosol dispersion are accurately predicted with transport barriers calculated from short forecasts, the long-term influence on radiative forcing is more difficult to predict and warrants deeper investigation. Statistically significant changes in radiative forcing at timescales beyond the forecasting window showed mixed results, potentially increasing or decreasing forcing after 1 year when compared to fixed injections. We conclude that future feasibility studies of geoengineering should consider the cooling benefits possible by strategically injecting sulfate aerosols at optimized time-varying locations. Our method of utilizing time-varying attracting and repelling structures shows great promise for identifying optimal dispersion locations, and radiative forcing impacts can be improved by considering additional meteorological variables.

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A664891893