Ecosystem Impacts of Geoengineering: A Review for Developing a Science Plan
Geoengineering methods are intended to reduce climate change, which is already having demonstrable effects on ecosystem structure and functioning in some regions. Two types of geoengineering activities that have been proposed are: carbon dioxide (CO2) removal (CDR), which removes CO2 from the atmosphere, and solar radiation management (SRM, or sunlight reflection methods), which reflects a small percentage of sunlight back into space to offset warming from greenhouse gases (GHGs). Current research suggests that SRM or CDR might diminish the impacts of climate change on ecosystems by reducing changes in temperature and precipitation. However, sudden cessation of SRM would exacerbate the climate effects on ecosystems, and some CDR might interfere with oceanic and terrestrial ecosystem processes. The many risks and uncertainties associated with these new kinds of purposeful perturbations to the Earth system are not well understood and require cautious and comprehensive research.
KeywordsGeoengineering Ecosystems Climate change Carbon dioxide removal Solar radiation management
The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from the U.S. National Science Foundation grant AGS1111205 and the U.K. Natural Environment Research Council, as well as seed funding and outreach support from the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program. We also gratefully acknowledge workshop participation from Richard Norris, Richard Somerville, Susan Hassol, Kathy Barbeau, Luis Gylvan, Phil Ineson, Ninad Bondre, Ben Kravitz, Spencer Hill, Lili Xia, Robin Stevens, and Anita Johnson.
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