The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research project: Assessing the Impact of Geo-engineering the Climate

Currently Active: 
Yes

The big science question: One of the key questions of societal relevance is whether it is possible to mitigate the impact of rising carbon emissions on Earth's climate. It is important to assess if technological means ('Geo-Engineering') have the capacity and viability to offset rising temperatures, in the case emissions cannot be reduced sufficiently. How safe and cost effective are these methods of 'Geo-Engineering'?

Project Overview

Research details

Anthropogenic CO2 emissions are increasing by more than 2% per year, rather than decreasing by the ~3% needed to mitigate climate change. Informed advice to policy makers regarding the societal consequences of anthropogenic carbon emissions and the evaluation of geoengineering approaches to supplement reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions is required. Research in Southampton has (i) developed a new class Earth System model ('GENIE') that can be used investigate the potential interaction between the carbon cycle, the oceans, and Climate. (ii) Researchers in Southampton also led a major Royal Society Review, chaired by Professor John Shepherd, CBE FRS, that provides an authoritative assessment of 'Geo-engineering' – the deliberate large-scale intervention in the Earth’s climate system to moderate global warming. This report provides a timely national and international benchmark for policy makers, opinion formers, and investment.

Key facts

  • The report provides the benchmark assessment of Geoengineering used for subsequent evaluations by policy makers (e.g., House of Commons HC221; US BPC, 2011) and for public understanding and engagement (e.g., Ipsos MORI, 2010).
  • The Royal Society report recommends that (1) Efforts to reduce global emissions must not be diminished and (2) Research in to Geoengineering should be undertaken.
  • Investigations using GENIE showed that reducing greenhouse gas emissions alone may not be sufficient to avoid dangerous climate change, and that global warming and ocean acidification are likely to persist for many centuries.

Click on images to enlarge.

Illustration of different proposed ways to use 'geo-engineering' to reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on warming
Geo-engineering methods
A matrix of affordability against effectiveness of geo-engineering methods proposed
Affordability vs effectiveness

Related research groups

Physical Oceanography

Staff

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