Effects of solar radiation modification on the ocean carbon cycle: an earth system modeling study

Solar radiation modification (SRM, also termed as geoengineering) has been proposed as a potential option to counteract anthropogenic warming. The underlying idea of SRM is to reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the atmosphere and surface, thus offsetting some amount of global warming. Here, the authors use an Earth system model to investigate the impact of SRM on the global carbon cycle and ocean biogeochemistry. The authors simulate the temporal evolution of global climate and the carbon cycle from the pre-industrial period to the end of this century under three scenarios: the RCP4.5 CO2 emission pathway, the RCP8.5 CO2 emission pathway, and the RCP8.5 CO2 emission pathway with the implementation of SRM to maintain the global mean surface temperature at the level of RCP4.5. The simulations show that SRM, by altering global climate, also affects the global carbon cycle. Compared to the RCP8.5 simulation without SRM, by the year 2100, SRM reduces atmospheric CO2 by 65 ppm mainly as a result of increased CO2 uptake by the terrestrial biosphere. However, SRM-induced change in atmospheric CO2 and climate has a small effect in mitigating ocean acidification. By the year 2100, relative to RCP8.5, SRM causes a decrease in surface ocean hydrogen ion concentration ([H+]) by 6% and attenuates the seasonal amplitude of [H+] by about 10%. The simulations also show that SRM has a small effect on globally integrated ocean net primary productivity relative to the high-CO2 simulation without SRM. This study contributes to a comprehensive assessment of the effects of SRM on both the physical climate and the global carbon cycle.

Jin X., Cao L. & Zhang J., 2022. Effects of solar radiation modification on the ocean carbon cycle: an earth system modeling study. Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Letters: 100187. doi: 10.1016/j.aosl.2022.100187. Article.

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