As part of the Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project a numerical experiment known as G6sulfur has been designed in which temperatures under a high-forcing future scenario (SSP5-8.5) are reduced to those under a medium-forcing scenario (SSP2-4.5) using the proposed geoengineering technique of stratospheric aerosol intervention (SAI). G6sulfur involves introducing sulfuric acid aerosol into the tropical stratosphere where it reflects incoming sunlight back to space, thus cooling the planet. Here, we compare the results from six Earth-system models that have performed the G6sulfur experiment and examine how SAI affects two important modes of natural variability, the northern wintertime North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO). Although all models show that SAI is successful in reducing global mean temperature as designed, they are also consistent in showing that it forces an increasingly positive phase of the NAO as the injection rate increases over the course of the 21st century, exacerbating precipitation reductions over parts of southern Europe compared with SSP5-8.5. In contrast to the robust result for the NAO, there is less consistency for the impact on the QBO, but the results nevertheless indicate a risk that equatorial SAI could cause the QBO to stall and become locked in a phase with permanent westerly winds in the lower stratosphere.
The impact of stratospheric aerosol intervention on the North Atlantic and Quasi-Biennial Oscillations
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