Can regional climate engineering save the summer Arctic sea ice?

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Abstract

Rapid declines in summer Arctic sea ice extent are projected under high-forcing future climate scenarios. Regional Arctic climate engineering has been suggested as an emergency strategy to save the sea ice. Model simulations of idealized regional dimming experiments compared to a business-as-usual greenhouse gas emission simulation demonstrate the importance of both local and remote feedback mechanisms to the surface energy budget in high latitudes. With increasing artificial reduction in incoming shortwave radiation, the positive surface albedo feedback from Arctic sea ice loss is reduced. However, changes in Arctic clouds and the strongly increasing northward heat transport both counteract the direct dimming effects. A 4 times stronger local reduction in solar radiation compared to a global experiment is required to preserve summer Arctic sea ice area. Even with regional Arctic dimming, a reduction in the strength of the oceanic meridional overturning circulation and a shut down of Labrador Sea deep convection are possible.

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