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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

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

Authors:

Lynn Russell

Philip Rasch

Georgina Mace

Robert Jackson

John Shepherd

Peter Liss

Margaret Leinen

David Schimel

Naomi Vaughan

Anthony Janetos

Philip Boyd

Richard Norby

Ken Caldeira

Joonas Merikanto

Paulo Artaxo

Jerry Melillo

Granger Morgan

+12 more
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
2012
Secondary Title:
AMBIO
ISSN:
1654-7209
DOI:
10.1007/s13280-012-0258-5
Year:
2012

Abstract

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.