- Journal Article
Authors' Summary: Solar geoengineering is a proposed set of technologies to help lessen the impacts of climate change by reducing the amount of sunlight received by the Earth. Stratospheric aerosol injection is a method of solar geoengineering that reduces sunlight by increasing the amount of aerosol particles in the stratosphere, a process which can also cause stratospheric ozone depletion. Nearly all studies of stratospheric aerosol injection have focused exclusively on the direct impacts of increased stratospheric aerosol on climate. However, changes in sunlight also alter the rates of chemical reactions throughout the atmosphere, changing the concentrations of greenhouse gases that affect climate like methane and tropospheric ozone.
Our results show that these changes in greenhouse gases due to geoengineering chemical feedbacks can substantially alter the climate effect of geoengineering, especially on regional and seasonal scales. Our results also show that geoengineering-induced stratospheric ozone depletion can lead to net global health benefits, as the impacts on mortality from overall improvements in surface air quality due to chemical feedbacks outweigh those from increases in UV exposure. These same chemical feedbacks can also improve crop yields and overall plant growth.
Our results underscore the risk of surprises that could arise from solar geoengineering.