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HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Professor of Public Policy, HKS; Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics, SEAS

Abstract

There are large uncertainties in the potential impacts of solar radiation modification (SRM) and in how these impacts depend on the way SRM is deployed. One open question concerns trade-offs between latitudinal profiles of insolation reduction and climate response. Here, a moist energy balance model is used to evaluate several SRM proposals, providing fundamental insight into how the insolation reduction profile affects the climate response. The optimal SRM profile is found to depend on the intensity of the intervention, as the most effective profile for moderate SRM focuses the reduction at high latitudes, whereas the most effective profile for strong SRM is tropically amplified. The effectiveness of SRM is also shown to depend on when it is applied, an important factor to consider when designing SRM proposals. Using an energy balance model allows us to provide physical explanations for these results while also suggesting future avenues of research with comprehensive climate models.

Citation

Lutsko, Nicholas J., Jacob T. Seeley, and David W. Keith. "Estimating Impacts and Trade-offs in Solar Geoengineering Scenarios With a Moist Energy Balance Model." Geophysical Research Letters 47.9 (May 2020).