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Scientific Goals

Given the extent of the current discussion on geoengineering options to limit climate change, it is necessary to study the possible efficiency, risks and implications related to these options. Numerical models are a preferred tool for performing such initial scientific studies, since without further information, any large-scale experiments on the atmosphere would raise serious ethical concerns. We will perform model studies for three options which have been suggested to engineer solar radiation. We will focus on

  1. space borne reflectors (placed at the Lagrangian point between the Earth and sun) [Work Package 2],
  2. sulphur injections into the stratosphere [Work Package 3], and
  3. engineering of low level marine clouds through sea salt injections [Work Package 4].

Our approach will be to use state-of-the-art Earth system models that (in particular) incorporate interactions between aerosols, radiation, clouds, air chemistry, the terrestrial biosphere, and the carbon cycle. Because of the limits and uncertainties of numerical models, we propose to perform numerical studies in a multi-model setup where differences between the models can be taken as a first estimate of the uncertainty of our results. Our simulations will be based on scenarios that are currently being prepared and discussed for the fifth assessment report of the IPCC. Our objectives concerning the three methods mentioned above are to estimate their effectiveness and their side effects, but also to contribute to a better understanding of their economic implications.

Specifically, we attempt to answer the following questions:

a)    Effectiveness

b)    Side effects

c)    Economical implications

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