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Volume 16, issue 3
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 1479-1489, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-16-1479-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Special issue: The Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project (GeoMIP):...

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 1479-1489, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-16-1479-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 10 Feb 2016

Research article | 10 Feb 2016

Stratospheric sulfate geoengineering could enhance the terrestrial photosynthesis rate

L. Xia1, A. Robock1, S. Tilmes2, and R. R. Neely III2,3 L. Xia et al.
  • 1Department of Environmental Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA
  • 2National Center for Atmospheric Research, Atmospheric Chemistry Division, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 3National Centre for Atmospheric Science and the Institute of Climate and Atmospheric Science, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

Abstract. Stratospheric sulfate geoengineering could impact the terrestrial carbon cycle by enhancing the carbon sink. With an 8Tgyr−1 injection of SO2 to produce a stratospheric aerosol cloud to balance anthropogenic radiative forcing from the Representative Concentration Pathway 6.0 (RCP6.0) scenario, we conducted climate model simulations with the Community Earth System Model – the Community Atmospheric Model 4 fully coupled to tropospheric and stratospheric chemistry (CAM4–chem). During the geoengineering period, as compared to RCP6.0, land-averaged downward visible (300–700nm) diffuse radiation increased 3.2Wm−2 (11%). The enhanced diffuse radiation combined with the cooling increased plant photosynthesis by 0.07±0.02µmolCm−2s−1, which could contribute to an additional 3.8±1.1GtCyr−1 global gross primary productivity without explicit nutrient limitation. This increase could potentially increase the land carbon sink. Suppressed plant and soil respiration due to the cooling would reduce natural land carbon emission and therefore further enhance the terrestrial carbon sink during the geoengineering period. This potentially beneficial impact of stratospheric sulfate geoengineering would need to be balanced by a large number of potential risks in any future decisions about the implementation of geoengineering.

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Short summary
Climate model simulations show that stratospheric sulfate geoengineering could impact the terrestrial carbon cycle by enhancing the carbon sink. Enhanced downward diffuse radiation, combined with cooling, could stimulate plants to grow more and absorb more carbon dioxide. This beneficial impact of stratospheric sulfate geoengineering would need to be balanced by a large number of potential risks in any future decisions about implementation of geoengineering.
Climate model simulations show that stratospheric sulfate geoengineering could impact the...
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