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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2019-48
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2019-48
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 14 Oct 2019

Submitted as: research article | 14 Oct 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).

Differing precipitation response between Solar Radiation Management and Carbon Dioxide Removal due to fast and slow components

Anton Laakso1,2, Peter K. Snyder1, Stefan Liess3, Antti-Ilari Partanen4, and Dylan B. Millet1 Anton Laakso et al.
  • 1Department of Soil, Water and Climate, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, St. Paul, MN-55108, Minnesota, USA
  • 2Finnish Meteorological Institute, Atmospheric Research Centre of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, FI-70200, Finland
  • 3Department of Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN-55455
  • 4Finnish Meteorological Institute, Climate System Research, Helsinki, FI-00100, Finland

Abstract. Solar Radiation Management (SRM) and Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) are geoengineering methods that have been proposed to prevent climate warming in the event of insufficient greenhouse gas emission reductions. Here, we have studied temperature and precipitation responses to CDR and SRM with the RCP4.5 scenario using the MPI-ESM and CESM Earth System Models (ESMs). The SRM scenarios were designed to meet one of the two different climate targets: to keep either global mean 1) surface temperature or 2) precipitation at the 2010–2020 level via stratospheric sulfur injections. Stratospheric sulfur fields were simulated beforehand with an aerosol-climate model, with the same aerosol radiative properties used in both ESMs. In the CDR scenario, atmospheric CO2 concentrations were reduced to keep the global mean temperature at approximately the 2010–2020 level. Results show that applying SRM to offset 21st century climate warming in the RCP4.5 scenario leads to a 1.42 % (MPI-ESM) or 0.73 % (CESM) reduction in global mean precipitation, whereas CDR increases global precipitation by 0.5 % in both ESMs for 2080–2100 relative to 2010–2020. In all cases, the simulated global mean precipitation change can be represented as the sum of a slow temperature-dependent component and a fast temperature-independent component, which are quantified by regression method. Based on this component analysis, the fast temperature-independent component of CO2 explains the global mean precipitation change in both SRM and CDR scenarios. Based on the SRM simulations, a total of 163–199 Tg(S) (CESM) or 292–318 Tg(S) (MPI-ESM) of injected sulfur from 2020 to 2100 was required to offset global mean warming based on the RCP4.5 scenario. To prevent a global mean precipitation increase, only 95–114 Tg(S) was needed and this was also enough to prevent global mean climate warming from exceeding 2 degrees above preindustrial temperatures. The distinct effects of SRM in the two ESM simulations mainly reflected differing shortwave absorption responses to water vapor. Results also showed relatively large differences in the individual (fast versus slow) precipitation components between ESMs.

Anton Laakso et al.
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Latest update: 16 Nov 2019
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Short summary
Geoengineering techniques have been proposed to prevent climate warming in the event of insufficient greenhouse gas emission reductions. Simultaneously these techniques have an impact on precipitation which is depending on the used techniques, magnitude of geoengineering and background circumstances. Here we separated the precipitation responses to temperature independent and dependent components which were then used to explain the precipitation changes in the studied climate model simulations.
Geoengineering techniques have been proposed to prevent climate warming in the event of...
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