Could we control our climate?
Could we control our climate?

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Could we control our climate?

3.1 Dialling down the sun

Many climate model studies predict that Solar Radiation Management (SRM) would decrease global precipitation and produce major droughts (Hegerl and Solomon, 2009). It may, for example, weaken the Asian and African summer monsoons, which could risk the food and water security of billions of people (Robock et al., 2008). Physical risks of this scale and importance would likely have large social implications.

An indirect risk of SRM is the rapid speed with which it acts.

  • What is the disadvantage of this speed?

  • If the SRM method were withdrawn after a period of use, there could be rapid and substantial warming that is more damaging than if SRM had never been used in the first place.

In other words, there is a physical risk from a future switch-off of SRM geoengineering, particularly if:

  • we have adapted our infrastructure and agriculture to the new (e.g. drier) climate
  • greenhouse gas forcing has steadily increased, and SRM has been steadily ramped up to compensate it, so stopping SRM gives a larger climate change than has been seen before
  • the switch-off is instant, producing rapid climate change.

What are the specific risks of particular methods of SRM and CDR?

CLI_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371