Impact of Solar Radiation Modification on allowable CO2 emissions: what can we learn from multi-model simulations?

Plazzotta, Maxime ; Séférian, Roland ; Douville, Hervé

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<p align="justify">Solar radiation modification (SRM) is known to strengthen both land and ocean carbon uptake because of its impacts on surface temperature, solar radiation and other potential drivers of the global carbon cycle. However, the magnitude and timing of the response of both land and ocean carbon uptake to SRM and its consequence on allowable CO2 emissions remain poorly understood. Here we use the results of six Earth system models (ESMs) simulating a continuous stratospheric injection of 5 Tg of sulfur dioxide per year between 2020 and 2069 under the representative concentration pathways 4.5 to investigate the impact of SRM on land and ocean carbon uptake. We find that 50 years of SRM under this protocol increase the allowable CO2 emissions by 40±19 GtC; 85% of this additional uptake of carbon is stored in the land biosphere and 15% in the ocean. This increase in allowable CO2 emissions is however not sustainable after the stoppage of SRM. ESMs predict a mean release of 8±11 GtC of the carbon back to the atmosphere 20 years after the stoppage which is dominated by large uncertainties in the response of the simulated land carbon cycle to rising temperature and solar radiation. We demonstrate that the time scales of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) potential of SRM is are smaller than the time scales of the geological storage assumed in well-established CDR options. This shows that the CDR potential of SRM should be compared to well-established CDR options with caution.</p>
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