Professor Piers Forster, Professor of Physical Climate Change at the University of Leeds, and the principal investigator of the Integrated Assessment of Geoengineering Proposals (IAGP) project, said: “Our research shows that the devil is in the detail. Geoengineering will be much more expensive and challenging than previous estimates suggest and any benefits would be limited.
“For example, when simulating the spraying of sea salt particles into clouds to try to brighten them, we found that only a few clouds were susceptible and that the particles would tend to coagulate and fall out before reaching the cloud base.”
In September 2009, The Royal Society published a report, Geoengineering the climate: science, governance and uncertainty. It influenced research worldwide, identified important gaps and called for a major UK funding programme into geoengineering. The IAGP and SPICE projects were funded the next year, and the CGG project followed in 2012.
IAGP is the UK’s first interdisciplinary research study into the controversial issue of geoengineering. It has brought together a range of expertise – climate modelling, philosophy and engineering – in addition to understanding public perceptions, to assess geoengineering within wider societal values.
“Cleverly designed simulations create less necessity for real-world testing. My favourite part of the research involved creating a virtual reality in which we tried to rescue Arctic sea ice by dumping sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere from Stratotanker aircraft flying out of Svalbard in Norway,” said Professor Forster. “Issues around monitoring and predicting the effects of our actions led to huge indecision and highlighted how challenging it would be to ever try and deploy these techniques in the real world.”...