Ecosystem Impacts of Geoengineering: A Review for Developing a Science Plan

TitleEcosystem Impacts of Geoengineering: A Review for Developing a Science Plan
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsRussell, Lynn M., Rasch Philip J., Mace Georgina M., Jackson Robert B., Shepherd John, Liss Peter, Leinen Margaret, Schimel David, Vaughan Naomi E., Janetos Anthony C., Boyd Philip W., Norby Richard J., Caldeira Ken, Merikanto Joonas, Artaxo Paulo, Melillo Jerry M., and M. Morgan Granger
Keywordsclimate, ecosystems, geoengineering, impacts

Geoengineering methods are intended to reduce climate change, which is already having demonstrable effects on ecosystem structure and functioning in some regions. Two types of geoengineering activities that have been proposed are: carbon dioxide (CO2) removal (CDR), which removes CO2 from the atmosphere, and solar radiation management (SRM, or sunlight reflection methods), which reflects a small percentage of sunlight back into space to offset warming from greenhouse gases. Current research suggests that SRM or CDR might reduce the impacts of climate change on ecosystems by reducing changes in temperature and precipitation. However, sudden cessation of SRM would exacerbate the climate effects on ecosystems, and some CDR might interfere with oceanic and terrestrial ecosystem processes. The many risks and uncertainties associated with these new kinds of purposeful perturbations to the Earth system are not well understood and require cautious and comprehensive research.