Negative effects of geo engineering on solar power and plant/crop production

Research at the Earth Systems Research

Laboratory   Scientists at the Earth

Systems Research Laboratory (ESRL)

have begun to explore the potential

impacts of SRM on solar power

production. In March 2009 the Chemical

Sciences Division published a paper on

how atmospheric sulfate injections may

significantly decrease power generation

from solar facilities.β The paper suggests

that for every percentage of direct

sunlight reflected to outer space, solar

power output would decrease by four or

five percent. In addition, there is the even

more troubling concern that atmospheric

SRM could negatively impact food crops

growth and decrease yields. Any

atmospheric SRM research program must

be subject to robust risk assessment and

management procedures, including

modeling exercises on the secondary

impacts that a reduction in direct

sunlight could have on both solar power

installations and plant growth.

β

Daniel M. Murphy, Effect of Stratospheric

Aerosols on Direct Sunlight and Implications for

Concentrating Solar Power, 43 ENVIRONMENTAL

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY p.2784 (2009).

Current research priorities at OAR could

be leveraged to support future climate

engineering research initiatives.  For example,

the Climate Program Office manages and

awards funding through competitive research

programs on high-priority topics in climate

science, including atmosphere, Arctic ice, the

global carbon cycle, climate variability, and

oceanic conditions.  Several types of climate

engineering research needs could fit into these

existing, broad research categories.  In

addition, the Climate Observations and

Monitoring program maintains a highly

integrated and complex network of observing

instruments to gather climate data, which are

then used for national and international

assessment projects.  Such a network would be

pertinent to informing the scope of potential

ecosystem impacts from climate engineering.

 

Another pertinent mission at OAR is

Weather and Air Quality.  This mission

focuses on forecasting and hazard warnings as

well as on the chemical and physical makeup

of the atmosphere, circulation patterns, and

changes caused by chemical inputs.  Although

many of OAR’s ocean and freshwater

activities relate to traditional NOAA missions,

such as fisheries management and coastline

restoration, OAR also conducts a great

measure of research on issues relevant to climate engineering research such as aquatic

invasive species, freshwater contamination, the nutrient pollution cycle, and ocean

acidification.

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