Detecting sulphate aerosol geoengineering with different methods

Y. T. Eunice Lo, Andrew J. Charlton-perez, Fraser C. Lott, Eleanor J. Highwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
255 Downloads (Pure)


Sulphate aerosol injection has been widely discussed as a possible way to engineer future climate. Monitoring it would require detecting its effects amidst internal variability and in the presence of other external forcings. We investigate how the use of different detection methods and filtering techniques affects the detectability of sulphate aerosol geoengineering in annual-mean global-mean near-surface air temperature. This is done by assuming a future scenario that injects 5 Tg yr−1 of sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere and cross-comparing simulations from 5 climate models. 64% of the studied comparisons would require 25 years or more for detection when no filter and the multi-variate method that has been extensively used for attributing climate change are used, while 66% of the same comparisons would require fewer than 10 years for detection using a trend-based filter. This highlights the high sensitivity of sulphate aerosol geoengineering detectability to the choice of filter. With the same trend-based filter but a non-stationary method, 80% of the comparisons would require fewer than 10 years for detection. This does not imply sulphate aerosol geoengineering should be deployed, but suggests that both detection methods could be used for monitoring geoengineering in global, annual mean temperature should it be needed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number39169
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2016


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