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Robock et al 2010: A Test for Geoengineering? Print E-mail
Friday, 29 January 2010 07:06

Science 29 January 2010:
Vol. 327. no. 5965, pp. 530 - 531
DOI: 10.1126/science.1186237


Atmospheric Science:

A Test for Geoengineering?

Alan Robock,1 Martin Bunzl,2 Ben Kravitz,1 Georgiy L. Stenchikov3

1 Department of Environmental Sciences, Rutgers University, 14 College Farm Road, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA.
2 Department of Philosophy, Rutgers University, 191 Ryders Lane, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA.
3 Division of Physical Sciences and Engineering, 4700 King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal 23955-6900, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

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Scientific and political interest in the possibility of geoengineering the climate is rising (1). There are currently no means of implementing geoengineering, but if a viable technology is produced in the next decade, how could it be tested? We argue that geoengineering cannot be tested without full-scale implementation. The initial production of aerosol droplets can be tested on a small scale, but how they will grow in size (which determines the injection rate needed to produce a particular cooling) can only be tested by injection into an existing aerosol cloud, which cannot be confined to one location. Furthermore, weather and climate variability preclude observation of the climate response without a large, decade-long forcing. Such full-scale implementation could disrupt food production on a large scale.