Members’ Publications

Solar radiation management and ecosystem functional responses

Ito A.
Climatic Change, 142:53–66

Geoengineering such as solar radiation management (SRM) can be an emergent option to avoid devastating climatic warming, but its ramifications are barely understood. The perturbation of the Earth’s energy balance, atmospheric dynamics, and hydrological cycling may exert unexpected influences on natural and human systems. In this study, I evaluate the impacts of SRM deployment on terrestrial ecosystem functions using a process-based ecosystem model (the Vegetation Integrative Simulator for Trace gases, VISIT) driven by the climate projections by multiple climate models. In the SRM-oriented climate projections, massive injection of sulphate aerosols into the stratosphere lead to increased scattering of solar radiation and delayed anthropogenic climate warming. The VISIT simulations show that canopy light absorption and gross primary production are enhanced in subtropics in spite of the slight decrease of total incident solar radiation. The retarded temperature rise during the deployment period leads to lower respiration, and consequently, an additional net terrestrial ecosystem carbon uptake by about 20%. After the SRM termination, however, along with the temperature rise, this carbon is released rapidly to the atmosphere. As a result of altered precipitation and radiation budget, simulated runoff discharge is suppressed mainly in the tropics. These SRM-induced influences on terrestrial ecosystems occurr heterogeneously over the land surface and differed among the ecosystem functions. These responses of terrestrial functions should be taken into account when discussing the costs and benefits of geoengineering.