Climate engineering and the ocean: effects on biogeochemistry and primary production
Here we use an Earth system model with interactive biogeochemistry to project future ocean biogeochemistry impacts from the large-scale deployment of three different radiation management (RM) climate engineering (also known as geoengineering) methods: stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI), marine sky brightening (MSB), and cirrus cloud thinning (CCT). We apply RM such that the change in radiative forcing in the RCP8.5 emission scenario is reduced to the change in radiative forcing in the RCP4.5 scenario. The resulting global mean sea surface temperatures in the RM experiments are comparable to those in RCP4.5, but there are regional differences. The forcing from MSB, for example, is applied over the oceans, so the cooling of the ocean is in some regions stronger for this method of RM than for the others. Changes in ocean net primary production (NPP) are much more variable, but SAI and MSB give a global decrease comparable to RCP4.5 (∼ 6 % in 2100 relative to 1971–2000), while CCT gives a much smaller global decrease of ∼ 3 %. Depending on the RM methods, the spatially inhomogeneous changes in ocean NPP are related to the simulated spatial change in the NPP drivers (incoming radiation, temperature, availability of nutrients, and phytoplankton biomass) but mostly dominated by the circulation changes. In general, the SAI- and MSB-induced changes are largest in the low latitudes, while the CCT-induced changes tend to be the weakest of the three. The results of this work underscore the complexity of climate impacts on NPP and highlight the fact that changes are driven by an integrated effect of multiple environmental drivers, which all change in different ways. These results stress the uncertain changes to ocean productivity in the future and advocate caution at any deliberate attempt at large-scale perturbation of the Earth system.