Publications

    Anthony R. Harding, Mariia Belaia, and David W. Keith. 6/14/2022. “The Value of Information About Geoengineering and the Two-Sided Cost of Bias.” Climate Policy, Pp. 1-11. Publisher's VersionAbstract
    Solar geoengineering (SG) might be able to reduce climate risks if used to supplement emissions cuts and carbon removal. Yet, the wisdom of proceeding with research to reduce its uncertainties is disputed. Here, we use an integrated assessment model to estimate that the value of information that reduces uncertainty about SG efficacy. We find the value of reducing uncertainty by one-third by 2030 is around $4.5 trillion, most of which comes from reduced climate damages rather than reduced mitigation costs. Reducing uncertainty about SG efficacy is similar in value to reducing uncertainty about climate sensitivity. We analyse the cost of over-confidence about SG that causes too little emissions cuts and too much SG. Consistent with concerns about SG’s moral hazard problem, we find an over-confident bias is a serious and costly concern; but, we also find under-confidence that prematurely rules out SG can be roughly as costly. Biased judgments are costly in both directions. A coin has two sides. Our analysis quantitatively demonstrates the risk-risk trade-off around SG and reinforces the value of research that can reduce uncertainty.
    Hongwei Sun, Sebastian Eastham, and David Keith. 3/21/2022. “Developing a Plume-in-Grid Model for Plume Evolution in the Stratosphere.” Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 14, 4. Publisher's VersionAbstract
    Stratospheric emissions from aircraft or rockets are important sources of chemical perturbations. Small-radius high-aspect-ratio plumes from stratospheric emissions are smaller than global Eulerian models' grid cells. To help global Eulerian models resolve subgrid plumes in the stratosphere, a Lagrangian plume model, comprising a Lagrangian trajectory model and an adaptive-grid plume model with a sequence of plume cross-section representations (from a highly resolved 2-D grid to a simplified 1-D grid based on a tradeoff between the accuracy and computational cost), is created and embedded into a global Eulerian (i.e., GEOS-Chem) model to establish a multiscale Plume-in-Grid (PiG) model. We compare this PiG model to the GEOS-Chem model based on a 1-month simulation of continuous inert tracer emissions by aircraft in the stratosphere. In the PiG results, the final injected tracer is more concentrated and approximately 1/3 of the tracer is at concentrations 2–4 orders of magnitude larger compared to the GEOS-Chem results. The entropy of injected tracer in the PiG results is 6% lower than the GEOS-Chem results, indicating less tracer mixing. The total product mass from a hypothetical second-order process (applied to the injected tracer) in the PiG results is 2 orders of magnitude larger than the GEOS-Chem results. Increasing the GEOS-Chem model's horizontal resolution 4-fold is insufficient to resolve this product difference, while requiring over seven times the computational resources of the PiG model. This paper describes the PiG model framework and parameterization of plume physical processes. Chemical and aerosol processes will be introduced in the future.
    Debra Weisentein, Daniele Visioni, Henning Franke, Ulrike Niemeier, Sandro Vattioni, Garbiel Chiodo, Thomas Peter, and David Keith. 3/4/2022. “An interactive stratospheric aerosol model intercomparison of solar geoengineering by stratospheric injection of SO2 or accumulation-mode sulfuric acid aerosols.” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 22, 5, Pp. 2955-2973. Publisher's VersionAbstract
    Studies of stratospheric solar geoengineering have tended to focus on modification of the sulfuric acid aerosol layer, and almost all climate model experiments that mechanistically increase the sulfuric acid aerosol burden assume injection of SO2. A key finding from these model studies is that the radiative forcing would increase sublinearly with increasing SO2 injection because most of the added sulfur increases the mass of existing particles, resulting in shorter aerosol residence times and aerosols that are above the optimal size for scattering. Injection of SO3 or H2SO4 from an aircraft in stratospheric flight is expected to produce particles predominantly in the accumulation-mode size range following microphysical processing within an expanding plume, and such injection may result in a smaller average stratospheric particle size, allowing a given injection of sulfur to produce more radiative forcing. We report the first multi-model intercomparison to evaluate this approach, which we label AM-H2SO4 injection. A coordinated multi-model experiment designed to represent this SO3- or H2SO4-driven geoengineering scenario was carried out with three interactive stratospheric aerosol microphysics models: the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Earth System Model (CESM2) with the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM) atmospheric configuration, the Max-Planck Institute’s middle atmosphere version of ECHAM5 with the HAM microphysical module (MAECHAM5-HAM) and ETH’s SOlar Climate Ozone Links with AER microphysics (SOCOL-AER) coordinated as a test-bed experiment within the Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project (GeoMIP). The intercomparison explores how the injection of new accumulation-mode particles changes the large-scale particle size distribution and thus the overall radiative and dynamical response to stratospheric sulfur injection. Each model used the same injection scenarios testing AM-H2SO4 and SO2 injections at 5 and 25 Tg(S) yr−1 to test linearity and climate response sensitivity. All three models find that AM-H2SO4 injection increases the radiative efficacy, defined as the radiative forcing per unit of sulfur injected, relative to SO2 injection. Increased radiative efficacy means that when compared to the use of SO2 to produce the same radiative forcing, AM-H2SO4 emissions would reduce side effects of sulfuric acid aerosol geoengineering that are proportional to mass burden. The model studies were carried out with two different idealized geographical distributions of injection mass representing deployment scenarios with different objectives, one designed to force mainly the midlatitudes by injecting into two grid points at 30◦ N and 30◦ S, and the other designed to maximize aerosol residence time by injecting uniformly in the region between 30◦ S and 30◦ N. Analysis of aerosol size distributions in the perturbed stratosphere of the models shows that particle sizes evolve differently in response to concentrated versus dispersed injections depending on the form of the injected sulfur (SO2 gas or AM-H2SO4 particulate) and suggests that prior model results for concentrated injection of SO2 may be strongly dependent on model resolution. Differences among models arise from differences in aerosol formulation and differences in model dynamics, factors whose interplay cannot be easily untangled by this intercomparison.
    A. P. Behrer, R. J. Park, C. M. Golja, D. W. Keith, and G. Wagner. 9/15/2021. “Heat has larger impacts on labor in poorer areas.” Environmental Research Communications, 3, 095001. Publisher's VersionAbstract
    Hotter temperature can reduce labor productivity, work hours, and labor income. The effects of heat are likely to be a joint consequence of both exposure and vulnerability. Here we explore the impacts of heat on labor income in the US, using regional wealth as a proxy for vulnerability. We find that one additional day >32 °C (90 °F) lowers annual payroll by 0.04%, equal to 2.1% of average weekly earnings. Accounting for humidity results in slightly more precise estimates. Proxying for wealth with dividend payments we find smaller impacts of heat in counties with higher average wealth. Temperature projections for 204050 suggest that earnings impacts may be 95% smaller for US counties in the richest decile relative to the poorest. Considering the within country distribution of vulnerability, in addition to exposure, to climate change could substantially change estimated within-country differences between the rich and poor in income losses from climate change.
    Mariia Belaia, Juan Moreno-Cruz, and David Keith. 8/1/2021. “Optimal climate policy in 3D: mitigation, carbon removal, and solar geoengineering.” Climate Change Economics, 12, 3, Pp. 2150008. Publisher's VersionAbstract
    We introduce solar geoengineering (SG) and carbon dioxide removal (CDR) into an integrated assessment model to analyze the trade-offs between mitigation, SG, and CDR. We propose a novel empirical parameterization of SG that disentangles its efficacy, calibrated with climate model results, from its direct impacts. We use a simple parameterization of CDR that decouples it from the scale of baseline emissions. We find that (a) SG optimally delays mitigation and lowers the use of CDR, which is distinct from moral hazard; (b) SG is deployed prior to CDR while CDR drives the phasing out of SG in the far future; (c) SG deployment in the short term is relatively independent of discounting and of the long-term trade-off between SG and CDR over time; (d) small amounts of SG sharply reduce the cost of meeting a 2°
    C target and the costs of climate change, even with a conservative calibration for the efficacy of SG.
    Sebastian Eastham, Sarah Doherty, David Keith, Jadwiga H. Richter, and Lili Xia. 2021. “Improving Models for Solar Climate Intervention Research.” Eos. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    Solar climate intervention, also known as solar radiation modification, is an approach intended to mitigate the impacts of climate change by reducing the amount of solar energy that the Earth system traps. It sits alongside three other plausible responses to climate risk: emission cuts and decarbonization, atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) removal, and adaptation to a changing climate.

    Unlike the other approaches, solar climate intervention (SCI), which comprises various techniques, aims to modify Earth’s radiation budget—the amounts and balance of solar energy that Earth absorbs and reflects—directly. Implementing SCI means either decreasing inbound solar (shortwave) radiation by reflecting it back into space before it is absorbed or increasing the amount of outbound terrestrial (longwave) radiation.

    Potential methods of SCI include stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI), marine cloud brighteningcirrus cloud thinningsurface albedo modification, and space-based methods involving, for example, mirrors (Figure 1). At present, the potential efficacy and risks of implementing these approaches to reduce climate change are highly uncertain and likely depend on how they are implemented.

    The Geoengineering Modeling Research Consortium (GMRC) was founded to coordinate SCI modeling research and to identify and resolve relevant issues with physical models, especially where existing climate research is unlikely to do so. Here we synthesize 2 years of GMRC meetings and research, and we offer specific recommendations for future model development.

    Yuanchao Fan, Jerry Tjiputra, Helene Muri, Danica Lombardozzi, Chang-Eui Park, Shengjun Wu, and David Keith. 2021. “Solar geoengineering can alleviate climate change pressures on crop yields.” Nature Food, 2, 5, Pp. 373–381. Publisher's VersionAbstract
    Solar geoengineering (SG) and CO2 emissions reduction can each alleviate anthropogenic climate change, but their impacts on food security are not yet fully understood. Using an advanced crop model within an Earth system model, we analysed the yield responses of six major crops to three SG technologies (SGs) and emissions reduction when they provide roughly the same reduction in radiative forcing and assume the same land use. We found sharply distinct yield responses to changes in radiation, moisture and CO2, but comparable significant cooling benefits for crop yields by all four methods. Overall, global yields increase \textasciitilde10% under the three SGs and decrease 5% under emissions reduction, the latter primarily due to reduced CO2 fertilization, relative to business as usual by the late twenty-first century. Relative humidity dominates the hydrological effect on yields of rainfed crops, with little contribution from precipitation. The net insolation effect is negligible across all SGs, contrary to previous findings.
    Peter Irvine, Elizabeth Burns, Ken Caldeira, Frank Keutsch, Dustin Tingley, and David Keith. 2021. “Expert judgments on solar geoengineering research priorities and challenges.” EarthArXiv. Publisher's VersionAbstract
    Solar geoengineering describes a set of proposals to deliberately alter the earth’s radiative balance to reduce climate risks. We elicit judgements on natural science research priorities for solar geoengineering through a survey and in-person discussion with 72 subject matter experts, including two thirds of all scientists with ≥10 publications on the topic. Experts prioritized Earth system response (33%) and impacts on society and ecosystems (27%) over the human and social dimensions (17%) and developing or improving solar geoengineering methods (15%), with most allocating no effort to weather control or counter-geoengineering. While almost all funding to date has focused on geophysical modeling and social sciences, our experts recommended substantial funding for observations (26%), perturbative field experiments (16%), laboratory research (11%) and engineering for deployment (11%). Of the specific proposals, stratospheric aerosols received the highest average priority (34%) then marine cloud brightening (17%) and cirrus cloud thinning (10%). The views of experts with ≥10 publications were generally consistent with experts with <10 publications, though when asked to choose the radiative forcing for their ideal climate scenario only 40% included solar geoengineering compared to 70% of experts with <10 publications. This suggests that those who have done more solar geoengineering research are less supportive of its use in climate policy. We summarize specific research recommendations and challenges that our experts identified, the most salient of which were fundamental uncertainties around key climate processes, novel challenges related to solar geoengineering as a design problem, and the challenges of public and policymaker engagement.
    C. M. Golja, L. W. Chew, J. A. Dykema, and D. W. Keith. 2021. “Aerosol Dynamics in the Near Field of the SCoPEx Stratospheric Balloon Experiment.” Journal of Geophysical Research. Publisher's VersionAbstract
    Stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI) might alleviate some climate risks associated with accumulating greenhouse gases. Reduction of specific process uncertainties relevant to the distribution of aerosol in a turbulent stratospheric wake is necessary to support informed decisions about aircraft deployment of this technology. To predict aerosol size distributions we apply microphysical parameterizations of nucleation, condensation and coagulation to simulate an aerosol plume generated via injection of calcite powder or sulphate into a stratospheric wake with velocity and turbulence simulated by a three‐dimensional (3D) fluid dynamic calculation. We apply the model to predict the aerosol distribution that would be generated by a propeller wake in the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx). We find that injecting 0.1 g s‐1 calcite aerosol produces a nearly monodisperse plume and that at the same injection rate, condensable sulphate aerosol forms particles with average radii of 0.1 µm at 3 km downstream. We test the sensitivity of plume aerosol composition, size, and optical depth to the mass injection rate and injection location. Aerosol size distribution depends more strongly on injection rate than injection configuration. Comparing plume properties with specifications of a typical photometer, we find that plumes could be detected optically as the payload flies under the plume. These findings test the relevance of in situ sampling of aerosol properties by the SCoPEx outdoor experiment to enable quantitative tests of microphysics in a stratospheric plume. Our findings provide a basis for developing predictive models of SAI using aerosols formed in stratospheric aircraft wakes.
    Zhen Dai, Elizabeth T. Burns, Peter J. Irvine, Dustin H. Tingley, Jianhua Xu, and David W. Keith. 2021. “Elicitation of US and Chinese expert judgments show consistent views on solar geoengineering.” Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 8, 1, Pp. 1–9. Publisher's VersionAbstract
    Expert judgments on solar geoengineering (SG) inform policy decisions and influence public opinions. We performed face-to-face interviews using formal expert elicitation methods with 13 US and 13 Chinese climate experts randomly selected from IPCC authors or supplemented by snowball sampling. We compare their judgments on climate change, SG research, governance, and deployment. In contrast to existing literature that often stress factors that might differentiate China from western democracies on SG, we found few significant differences between quantitative judgments of US and Chinese experts. US and Chinese experts differed on topics, such as desired climate scenario and the preferred venue for international regulation of SG, providing some insight into divergent judgments that might shape future negotiations about SG policy. We also gathered closed-form survey results from 19 experts with \textgreater10 publications on SG. Both expert groups supported greatly increased research, recommending SG research funding of \textasciitilde5% on average (10th–90th percentile range was 1–10%) of climate science budgets compared to actual budgets of \textless0.3% in 2018. Climate experts chose far less SG deployment in future climate policies than did SG experts.
    Tyler Felgenhauer, Joshua Horton, and David Keith. 2021. “Solar geoengineering research on the U.S. policy agenda: when might its time come?” Environmental Politics, Pp. 1–21. Publisher's VersionAbstract
    Solar geoengineering (SG) may be a helpful tool to reduce harms from climate change, yet further research into its potential benefits and risks must occur prior to any implementation. So far, however, organized research on SG has been absent from the U.S. national policy agenda. We apply the Multiple Streams Approach analytical framework to explain why a U.S. federal SG research program has failed to materialize up to now, and to consider how one might emerge in the future. We argue that establishing a federal program will require the formation of an advocacy coalition within the political arena that is prepared to support such a policy objective. A coalition favoring federal research on SG does not presently exist, yet the potential nucleus of a future political grouping is evident in the handful of ‘pragmatist’ environmental organizations that have expressed conditional support for expanded research.
    Jacob T. Seeley, Nicholas J. Lutsko, and David W. Keith. 12/6/2020. “Designing a radiative antidote to CO2.” Geophysical Research Letters. Publisher's VersionAbstract
    Solar Radiation Modification (SRM) reduces the CO2‐induced change to the mean global hydrological cycle disproportionately more than it reduces the CO2‐induced increase in mean surface temperature. Thus if SRM were used to offset all CO2‐induced mean warming, global‐mean precipitation would be less than in an unperturbed climate. Here we show that the mismatch between the mean hydrological effects of CO2 and SRM may partly be alleviated by spectrally tuning the SRM intervention (reducing insolation at some wavelengths more than others). By concentrating solar dimming at near‐infrared wavelengths, where H2O has strong absorption bands, the direct effect of CO2 on the tropospheric energy budget can be offset, which minimizes perturbations to the mean hydrological cycle. Idealized cloud‐resolving simulations of radiative‐convective equilibrium confirm that spectrally‐tuned SRM can simultaneously maintain mean surface temperature and precipitation at their unperturbed values even as large quantities of CO2 are added to the atmosphere.
    Zhen Dai, Debra K. Weisenstein, Frank N. Keutsch, and David W. Keith. 12/2020. “Experimental reaction rates constrain estimates of ozone response to calcium carbonate geoengineering.” Communications Earth & Environment, 1, 63. Publisher's VersionAbstract
    Stratospheric solar geoengineering (SG) would impact ozone by heterogeneous chemistry. Evaluating these risks and methods to reduce them will require both laboratory and modeling work. Prior model-only work showed that CaCO3 particles would reduce, or even reverse ozone depletion. We reduce uncertainties in ozone response to CaCO3 via experimental determination of uptake coefficients and model evaluation. Specifically, we measure uptake coefficients of HCl and HNO3 on CaCO3 as well as HNO3 and ClONO2 on CaCl2 at stratospheric temperatures using a flow tube setup and a flask experiment that determines cumulative long-term uptake of HCl on CaCO3. We find that particle ageing causes significant decreases in uptake coefficients on CaCO3. We model ozone response incorporating the experimental uptake coefficients in the AER-2D model. With our new empirical reaction model, the global mean ozone column is reduced by up to 3%, whereas the previous work predicted up to 27% increase for the same SG scenario. This result is robust under our experimental uncertainty and many other assumptions. We outline systematic uncertainties that remain and provide three examples of experiments that might further reduce uncertainties of CaCO3 SG. Finally, we highlight the importance of the link between experiments and models in studies of SG.
    Joshua B. Horton, Penehuro Lefale, and David Keith. 10/10/2020. “Parametric Insurance for Solar Geoengineering: Insights from the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative.” Global Policy, Special Issue. Publisher's VersionAbstract
    Solar geoengineering (SG) entails using technology to modify the Earth's radiative balance to offset some of the climate changes caused by long‐lived greenhouse gases. Parametric insurance, which delivers payouts when specific physical indices (such as wind speed) cross predefined thresholds, was recently proposed by two of us as a compensation mechanism for SG with the potential to ease disagreements about the technology and to facilitate cooperative deployment; we refer to this proposal as reduced‐rate climate risk insurance for solar geoengineering, or ‘RCG’. Here we probe the plausibility of RCG by exploring the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative (PCRAFI), a sovereign risk pool providing parametric insurance coverage against tropical cyclones and earthquakes/tsunamis to Pacific island countries since 2013. Tracing the history of PCRAFI and considering regional views on insurance as compensation necessitates reconfiguring RCG in a way that shifts the focus away from bargaining between developed and developing countries toward bargaining among developed countries. This revised version of RCG is challenged by an assumption of broad developed country support for sovereign climate insurance in the developing world, but it also better reflects the underlying incentive structure and distribution of power.
    Joshua B. Horton and Barbara Koremenos. 8/31/2020. “Steering and Influence in Transnational Climate Governance: Nonstate Engagement in Solar Geoengineering Research.” Global Environmental Politics, 20, 3, Pp. 93-111. Publisher's VersionAbstract
    Theorists of transnational climate governance (TCG) seek to account for the increasing involvement of nonstate and substate actors in global climate policy. While transnational actors have been present in the emerging field of solar geoengineering—a novel technology intended to reflect a fraction of sunlight back to space to reduce climate impacts—many of their most significant activities, including knowledge dissemination, scientific capacity building, and conventional lobbying, are not captured by the TCG framework. Insofar as TCG is identified with transnational governance and transnational governance is important to reducing climate risks, an incomplete TCG framework is problematic for effective policy making. We attribute this shortcoming on the part of TCG to its exclusive focus on steering and corollary exclusion of influence as a critical component of governance. Exercising influence, for example, through inside and outside lobbying, is an important part of transnational governance—it complements direct governing with indirect efforts to inform, persuade, pressure, or otherwise influence both governor and governed. Based on an empirical analysis of solar geoengineering research governance and a theoretical consideration of alternative literatures, including research on interest groups and nonstate advocacy, we call for a broader theory of transnational governance that integrates steering and influence in a way that accounts for the full array of nonstate and substate engagements beyond the state.
    Dharik Sanchan Mallapragada, Emre Gençer, Patrick Insinger, David Keith, and Francis Martin O’Sullivan. 8/19/2020. “Can Industrial-Scale Solar Hydrogen Supplied from Commodity Technologies Be Cost Competitive by 2030?” Cell Reports Physical Science, 100174. Publisher's VersionAbstract
    Expanding decarbonization efforts beyond the power sector are contingent on cost-effective production of energy carriers, like H2, with near-zero life-cycle carbon emissions. Here, we assess the levelized cost of continuous H2 supply (95% availability) at industrial-scale quantities (100 tonnes/day) in 2030 from integrating commodity technologies for solar photovoltaics, electrolysis, and energy storage. Our approach relies on modeling the least-cost plant design and operation that optimize component sizes while adhering to hourly solar availability, production requirements, and component inter-temporal operating constraints. We apply the model to study H2 production costs spanning the continental United States and, through extensive sensitivity analysis, explore system configurations that can achieve $2.5/kg levelized costs or less for a range of plausible 2030 technology projections at high-irradiance locations. Notably, we identify potential sites and system configurations where PV-electrolytic H2 could substitute natural gas-derived H2 at avoided CO2 costs (%$120/ton), similar to the cost of deploying carbon capture and sequestration

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