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Climate Engineering

DAVID S. SHOLL
Georgia Institute of Technology

ARMIN SOROOSHIAN
University of Arizona

Earth’s energy balance is sensitive to the actions of humans in ways that are unprecedented in human history. One clear indicator of anthropogenic activity is the increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations from 280 parts per million (ppm) before the Industrial Revolution to approximately 385 ppm today. Climate engineering is the concept of proactively and artificially modifying the earth system in ways that will combat human-induced changes in the planet’s radiative balance. Measures that have been considered include modification of the atmosphere’s reflectivity through the creation of aerosols, cloud brightening, and large-scale carbon sequestration through targeted changes in ocean chemistry and biology. These methods may have side effects and are characterized by a host of moral issues. This session explores the issues surrounding the impact of humans on the climate system, methods that might combat such perturbations, and the moral and legal issues associated with climate engineering.

Eli Kintisch (MIT and Science Magazine) opens with an overview of climate engineering and of considerations necessary before such an intervention is contemplated. Christopher Jones (Georgia Institute of Technology) then discusses aspects of removing CO2 from the atmosphere through mechanical or natural means. Lynn Russell (Scripps Institute of Oceanography) describes the role of atmospheric aerosols in climate engineering and gives examples of how recent field projects have enhanced understanding of the basic science and physics of cloud brightening. Finally, Ben Kravitz (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) discusses methods of climate engineering with an emphasis on the potential effects of simulated volcanic eruptions.

Together, these speakers present the state of the art in climate engineering knowledge based on modeling, experimental work, and social science considerations.



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Climate Engineering David S. Sholl Georgia Institute of Technology Armin Sorooshian University of Arizona Earth’s energy balance is sensitive to the actions of humans in ways that are unprecedented in human history. One clear indicator of anthropogenic activity is the increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations from 280 parts per mil- lion (ppm) before the Industrial Revolution to approximately 385 ppm today. Climate engineering is the concept of proactively and artificially modifying the earth system in ways that will combat human-induced changes in the planet’s radiative balance. Measures that have been considered include modification of the atmosphere’s reflectivity through the creation of aerosols, cloud brightening, and large-scale carbon sequestration through targeted changes in ocean chemistry and biology. These methods may have side effects and are characterized by a host of moral issues. This session explores the issues surrounding the impact of humans on the climate system, methods that might combat such perturbations, and the moral and legal issues associated with climate engineering. Eli Kintisch (MIT and Science Magazine) opens with an overview of climate engineering and of considerations necessary before such an intervention is con- templated. Christopher Jones (Georgia Institute of Technology) then discusses aspects of removing CO2 from the atmosphere through mechanical or natural means. Lynn Russell (Scripps Institute of Oceanography) describes the role of atmospheric aerosols in climate engineering and gives examples of how recent field projects have enhanced understanding of the basic science and physics of cloud brightening. Finally, Ben Kravitz (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) discusses methods of climate engineering with an emphasis on the potential effects of simulated volcanic eruptions. Together, these speakers present the state of the art in climate engineering knowl- edge based on modeling, experimental work, and social science considerations. 3

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