Session: Climate Intervention: Risks, Effects and Predicted Impacts for Biodiversity and Ecological Systems
Beyond impact: Ecology helping to guide scenarios of climate intervention
Thursday, August 5, 2021
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Jessica Hellmann, Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, Jessica Hellmann, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, Janet Franklin, Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA, Jessica Gurevitch, Stony Brook University, Cheryl Harrison, Port Isabel Lab, University of Texas Rio Grand Valley, TX, Jonathan Knott and Phoebe L. Zarnetske, Department of Integrative Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, Jonathan Knott and Phoebe L. Zarnetske, Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior Program, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, Alan Robock and Lili Xia, Department of Environmental Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, Simone Tilmes, Atmospheric Chemistry Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, Daniele Visioni, Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota St. Paul, MN, USA
Background/Question/Methods Solar radiation modification (SRM) is the deliberate manipulation of Earth’s temperature by reflecting incoming solar radiation or increasing Earth’s albedo and is one proposed climate intervention scheme, among others. Climate scientists are exploring SRM using different model scenarios to evaluate their feasibility and efficacy, should SRM be implemented to reduce catastrophic climate change. Ecologists should pay attention to this research: to incorporate SRM scenarios in ecological models of future climate; to participate in ecological impact assessment of SRM implementation; and to, importantly, help guide selection of SRM scenarios that achieve ecological or conservation goals. This talk focuses on the latter of these. Results/Conclusions SRM might be pursued to help reduce average global temperature, preserve agricultural productivity, or mitigate public health disasters, but it also could be deployed for conservation purposes. It could be used, in combination with other techniques, to preserve biodiversity or the delivery of critical ecosystem processes, in particular regions (e.g., Amazon forest or mangroves of the Sundarbans) – or some combination of conservation and other objectives. Presumably, different implementations of SRM would achieve different objectives, with possible tradeoffs among them. Drawing on our understanding of biodiversity patterns, ecological processes, and the importance of ecosystem services, ecologists can help define conservation goals for SRM evaluation, while recognizing that choosing among goals is a fraught and complex social dilemma. We see parallels from the emerging field of climate change adaptation that can help guide such research, where ecologists have been forced to grapple with the loss of historic baselines as an implied conservation target and are considering alternative conservation outcomes that are socially defined and sometimes contradictory. They also have had to pursue research to test the efficacy of new management techniques such as managed relocation. We explore these emerging paradigms for combining ecological research and socially-determined conservation objectives for their relevance to SRM and point to the need for new human-dimensions research around climate manipulation that includes objective-setting.