Study: Solar Geoengineering Could Weaken Rainfall

Bali Volcano Mount Agung November 2017 Eruption
Bali Volcano Mount Agung November 2017 Eruption. By Michael W. Ishak ( [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

More bad news for geogengineering.

Solar geoengineering could cause unwanted changes in climate, new modelling suggests

20 Jun 2020

“Novel changes in climate”

“Our results show that solar geoengineering will not simply reverse climate change,” Gertler explains. “Instead, it has the potential itself to induce novel changes in climate.”

In the Northern hemisphere storm tracks are also predicted to weaken with climate change. The latest work suggests that this would occur at a similar magnitude as with solar geoengineering. In the southern hemisphere, however, global warming is expected to increase the intensity of the storm tracks and shift them south. With solar geoengineering these storm track would weaken, with some of the models indicating that there may also be a poleward shift in these systems.

“A weakened storm track, in both hemispheres, would mean weaker winter storms but also lead to more stagnant weather, which could affect heat waves,” Gertler says. “Across all seasons, this could affect ventilation of air pollution. It also may contribute to a weakening of the hydrological cycle, with regional reductions in rainfall. These are not good changes, compared to a baseline climate that we are used to.” In the southern hemisphere changes in storm track intensity could impact wind‐driven ocean circulations and affect the stability of Antarctic ice sheets, the researchers warn.

“This work highlights that solar geoengineering is not reversing climate change, but is substituting one unprecedented climate state for another,” Gertler says.

Read more:

The abstract of the study;

Weakening of the Extratropical Storm Tracks in Solar Geoengineering Scenarios

Charles G. GertlerPaul A. O’GormanBen KravitzJohn C. MooreSteven J. PhippsShingo Watanabe
First published: 23 April 2020

Solar geoengineering that aims to offset global warming could nonetheless alter atmospheric temperature gradients and humidity and thus affect the extratropical storm tracks. Here, we first analyze climate model simulations from experiment G1 of the Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project, in which a reduction in incoming solar radiation balances a quadrupling of CO2. The Northern Hemisphere extratropical storm track weakens by a comparable amount in G1 as it does for increased CO2 only. The Southern Hemisphere storm track also weakens in G1, in contrast to a strengthening and poleward shift for increased CO2. Using mean available potential energy, we show that the changes in zonal‐mean temperature and humidity are sufficient to explain the different responses of storm‐track intensity. We also demonstrate similar weakening in a more complex geoengineering scenario. Our results offer insight into how geoengineering affects storm tracks, highlighting the potential for geoengineering to induce novel climate changes.

Read more:

A 2018 study covered by WUWT suggested solar geoengineering is bad for plants.

Estimating global agricultural effects of geoengineering using volcanic eruptions

Published: 08 August 2018

Jonathan Proctor, Solomon Hsiang, Jennifer Burney, Marshall Burke & Wolfram Schlenker 

Nature (2018)

Solar radiation management is increasingly considered to be an option for managing global temperatures, yet the economic effects of ameliorating climatic changes by scattering sunlight back to space remain largely unknown. Although solar radiation management may increase crop yields by reducing heat stress, the effects of concomitant changes in available sunlight have never been empirically estimated. Here we use the volcanic eruptions that inspired modern solar radiation management proposals as natural experiments to provide the first estimates, to our knowledge, of how the stratospheric sulfate aerosols created by the eruptions of El Chichón and Mount Pinatubo altered the quantity and quality of global sunlight, and how these changes in sunlight affected global crop yields. We find that the sunlight-mediated effect of stratospheric sulfate aerosols on yields is negative for both C4 (maize) and C3 (soy, rice and wheat) crops. Applying our yield model to a solar radiation management scenario based on stratospheric sulfate aerosols, we find that projected mid-twenty-first century damages due to scattering sunlight caused by solar radiation management are roughly equal in magnitude to benefits from cooling. This suggests that solar radiation management—if deployed using stratospheric sulfate aerosols similar to those emitted by the volcanic eruptions it seeks to mimic—would, on net, attenuate little of the global agricultural damage from climate change. Our approach could be extended to study the effects of solar radiation management on other global systems, such as human health or ecosystem function.

Read more:

Geoengineering would kill plants directly by starving them of sunlight, and now we learn any plants which survive sunlight starvation will die in the geoengineering induced drought.

What seems clear is climate sulphate aerosol injection geoengineering is an incredibly bad idea. Let us hope nobody ever attempts it on a meaningful scale.

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June 20, 2020 6:14 pm

Tinkering with such a chaotic system is like wandering around on your knees blindfolded on a football field … covered with plugged in toasters … while stabbing at the air with a fork.

G Mawer
Reply to  sendergreen
June 20, 2020 9:26 pm

I am reminded of an old commercial on tv: “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature”

Reply to  sendergreen
June 20, 2020 10:23 pm

“…while stabbing at the air with a fork.”

Exactly what we’ve been doing for 150 years.

Bryan A
Reply to  Loydo
June 20, 2020 11:34 pm

But tyne and tyne again, for the last 150 years we’ve been using a dinner fork and proposed Solar Geoengineering efforts would use a Pitch Fork
It takes pure insanity to believe you can only save something by obliterating it first

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Bryan A
June 21, 2020 5:42 am

“But tyne and tyne again, for the last 150 years we’ve been using a dinner fork”

I see what you did there. 🙂

Reply to  Loydo
June 21, 2020 4:52 am

“Exactly what we’ve been doing for 150 years.”

More RUBBISH from Loy-doh !

Be very glad of the slight NATURAL warming out of the coldest period in 10,000 years.

Reply to  Loydo
June 21, 2020 8:00 am

Stabbing the air with a fork doesn’t hurt the air.
Neither does CO2.

Bryan A
Reply to  MarkW
June 21, 2020 6:27 pm

From bells heart I Stab at Thee…
For hates sake I spit by last breath at thee…

Gotta love the way Melville writes

Reply to  sendergreen
June 21, 2020 8:01 am

Unless the toasters are up in the air, I don’t see what potential harm stabbing the air with a fork would do.
Now if you were stabbing the ground with a fork …

June 20, 2020 6:22 pm

> “Our results show that solar geoengineering will not simply reverse climate change,” Gertler explains. “Instead, it has the potential itself to induce novel changes in climate.”

I look forward to the IPO. And the arrests.

June 20, 2020 6:26 pm

Models, models, models all the way down.

Reply to  BoyfromTottenham
June 20, 2020 6:53 pm

It’s not like they’ve got any real world data to support their theories.

Reply to  MarkW
June 20, 2020 8:11 pm

Yeah but they sure wanna try and make some themselves.
Nothing like home made real world data, eh?

Richard (the cynical one)
Reply to  BoyfromTottenham
June 20, 2020 7:35 pm

Is that like turtles, turtles, turtles all the way down? Just as scientific either way.

Jeff Alberts
June 20, 2020 7:33 pm

“Our results show that solar geoengineering will not simply reverse climate change,”

Did a scientist actually say that?? Reverse climate change?? So he wants the climate to never change? Or go into some negative state of change?

Talk about lights on but nobody’s home.

Curious George
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
June 21, 2020 7:40 am

I have no idea what this is about. Is the “solar geoengineering” a new spell, or does it mean something outside of the magic kingdom?

June 20, 2020 7:33 pm

I was in Bali in November 2017 but left only a couple of days before the big eruption. I had hoped to see fire but only got to see steam.

Anyway, I’m working in an institute that has multi-million dollar projects on solar geo-engineering. I’m not actively involved, but if anyone asked, I’d tell them that I prefer the on-going experiment of biosphere enhancement, which feeds all plants and of course increases our agricultural yields.

June 20, 2020 7:35 pm

The old George Carlin video.

Problem: humans interfering with nature.

Solution: humans interfering with nature.

See also

June 20, 2020 7:45 pm

Please spare me the promises and show me something/anything that’s been projected that’s come to pass. I’ll wait.

June 20, 2020 8:16 pm

I’ve had several emails about the idea of increase the albedo of the ocean. It involves putting small long lasting bubbles on the surface.

The analysis hasn’t gotten much beyond the thumb sucking stage. I presume they are looking to entice someone to fund some physical test and then some models.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
June 21, 2020 8:03 am

I suspect such bubbles would drastically reduce the water’s ability to absorb oxygen.

Gary Pearse
June 20, 2020 9:00 pm

Engineers have been criticizing the idea of geoengineering climate since it came on the scene. This study, however, doesn’t cause me to rejoice on their findings because they are just another linear-minded fiction. It has value only if it were to change zealots minds away from this foolishness, which it won’t. With the untold dozens of unknown variables that are sure to be out there as part of the system, something completely different would happen.

When Willis was hunting for much touted elements of possible ‘climate’ change cycles coming out of solar cycles, he not only found no correlation in surface T, but he made perhaps the most significant discovery in the science that seemed not to stir the imagination of many. It was that differences in insolation between perihelion (earth closest to the sun) and aphelian (farthest away) were undetectable in the temperature/radiation data of satellites despite a 500,000km difference which all else being equal is stronger (and more frequent) than the solar cycle effect!

What happened. Well, there is an effect well-known to chemists and much exploited by chemical engineers in production process design – the le Châtelier Principle. Essentially the idea is that if a system defined by its composition, temperature pressure, etc. is perturbed by changes to any one of its components, the other components react in such a way as to resist the effect of the perturbation. That is, the change one might have expected is minimized. Le Châtelier himself, and chemists even today largely know it in this limited context.

More recently it has been recognized by some as a serious more univeral natural law. I was directed to an article on Lubos Motl’s website the last time I brought this up a few years ago here at WUWT. Even the economist Samuelson (who was previously a physicist) noted that the dynamics of the Supply-Demand- Price regime was perfectly describable as an example of the Principle.

My own musings are that Newton’s Third law in mechanics is only a limited case of the much more universal le Châtelier’s Principle. Another of my musings is the Back EMF in an electric motor when you switch it on, is a manifestation of the principle – the motor is also a generator and when it begins to turn, the generator current opposes the applied current, the resistance dimming the lights in the room and the motor rotation is inhibited. I have more, but you get the idea.

I believe le Châtelier has a place in the discussion the other day on the astrophysics (Rud Istvan) article. Stubborn neutron stars not letting go of their magnetism is suspiciously a le Châtelier trick. The 300% overestimate of the temperature effect of CO2 is because it missing the le Châtelier term in the equation. Even the “Great Greening of the Earth” is one of the components of the system that resisted the change in temperature, minimizing it.

I promised an article for WUWT a couple of years ago. I’m sure le Châtelier is unknown to most physicists and astronomers. This would be something to generate new ideas in this field. It is largely just a rule of thumb in chemistry, but from which predictions can be made. It needs to be fleshed out as a univerally applicable law of nature. Oh, and negative feedback which is present in all systems is probably best seen as le Châtelier in action.

[Mods maybe this might have a place as an article with a bit of advice and help from Andy May or someone]

Reply to  Gary Pearse
June 20, 2020 11:27 pm

Yes, would be fascinating to learn more! Thanks for your post.

Chris Jones
June 21, 2020 12:18 am

If le Chatelier had specialized in medicine.

Homeostasis: the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
Reply to  Chris Jones
June 21, 2020 1:00 am

I suspect the same principle might apply to human psychology and especially resistance to facts when opinions are strongly formed – I always thought the irrationality of the green eco brigade was something more worrying than preferred beliefs.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Chris Jones
June 21, 2020 9:07 pm

There can be little doubt that a perturbation of a healthy body by disease causing microbes is an example. The invasion of the system causes a variety of elements in the system to react to resist the invasion (or rather the changes the invader is temrying to make) specialized cells, antibodies, elevated body temperature, exudation of mucous …

Maybe in addition to testube investigations, ways to play the body system (like chemical engineers harnessing the Principle to effect optimizing production of chemical products) to reduce harm even further.

Going about finding a mathematical function for the principle itself, say of ‘n’ components, could be a chore, but one worth investigating. I’ve come to think that a chaotic system may not be as it is understood today. Rather it is a system of ‘n’ components that make it complex because of the size of ‘n’, but may not make it indeterministic.

Alastair Gray
June 21, 2020 12:20 am

I remember Le Chatelier being taught in high school chemistry inconnection, I think with the Haber process of ammonia synthesis. it seems to resonate with negative feedback although i seemto remember a WUWT article highlighting differences was it Monckton?
Also Lovelock’ s rather sensible(ifyou strip out the hippy nonsense) i think is a similar principle. Well worthy of an article or a paper Gary

June 21, 2020 12:54 am

Hubris never takes a vacation.

Tim Gorman
June 21, 2020 4:47 am

1. What heat stress? Every year we continue to see record food harvests. When is the heat stress going to make itself known? There apparently hasn’t been any heat stress for the past 20 years.

2. I haven’t read the actual study, it seems to be paywalled. However, it’s not obvious the authors have considered the impact of the jet streams, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. Would the NH jet stream work to concentrate or disperse any aerosols injected into the atmosphere? It’s highly likely it would do one or the other and either one would have significantly negative impact on the efficacy of the injection.

old white guy
June 21, 2020 5:30 am

We need to prevent foolish people from doing foolish things.

Tom Abbott
June 21, 2020 5:51 am

If the climate ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The climate ain’t broke. Leave it alone.

The thing that is going to do humanity the most harm is mass delusion, like we have around the issue of Human-caused global warming/climate change.

Mike Mitchell
June 23, 2020 6:15 am

Bill Gates believes that world population is too high and needs to be reduced. Am I the only one who sees the problem with him being involved with blocking sunlight – our #1 requirement for food on this planet?

Who is to say that his real motive isn’t to starve billions of people in developing countries?

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