Stratospheric ozone response to sulfate geoengineering: Results from the Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project (GeoMIP)



Geoengineering with stratospheric sulfate aerosols has been proposed as a means of temporarily cooling the planet, alleviating some of the side effects of anthropogenic CO2 emissions. However, one of the known side effects of stratospheric injections of sulfate aerosols under present-day conditions is a general decrease in ozone concentrations. Here we present the results from two general circulation models and two coupled chemistry-climate models within the experiments G3 and G4 of the Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project. On average, the models simulate in G4 an increase in sulfate aerosol surface area density similar to conditions a year after the Mount Pinatubo eruption and a decrease in globally averaged ozone by 1.1−2.1 DU (Dobson unit, 1 DU = 0.001 atm cm) during the central decade of the experiment (2040–2049). Enhanced heterogeneous chemistry on sulfate aerosols leads to an ozone increase in low and middle latitudes, whereas enhanced heterogeneous reactions in polar regions and increased tropical upwelling lead to a reduction of stratospheric ozone. The increase in UV-B radiation at the surface due to ozone depletion is offset by the screening due to the aerosols in the tropics and midlatitudes, while in polar regions the UV-B radiation is increased by 5% on average, with 12% peak increases during springtime. The contribution of ozone changes to the tropopause radiative forcing during 2040–2049 is found to be less than −0.1 W m−2. After 2050, because of decreasing ClOx concentrations, the suppression of the NOx cycle becomes more important than destruction of ozone by ClOx, causing an increase in total stratospheric ozone.