Quaglia, Ilaria; et al. (2021): A novel approach to sulfate geoengineering with surface emissions of carbonyl sulfide

Quaglia, Ilaria; Visioni, Daniele; Pitari, Giovanni; Kravitz, Ben (2021): A novel approach to sulfate geoengineering with surface emissions of carbonyl sulfide. (Preprint). In Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss. DOI: 10.5194/acp-2021-813.

„Sulfate geoengineering (SG) methods based on lower stratospheric tropical injection of sulfur dioxide (SO2) have been widely discussed in recent years, focusing on the direct and indirect effects they would have on the climate system. Here a potential alternative method is discussed, where sulfur emissions are located at the surface in the form of carbonyl sulfide (COS) gas. A time-dependent chemistry-climate model experiment is designed from year 2021 to 2055, assuming a 40 Tg-S/yr artificial global flux of COS, geographically distributed following the present day anthropogenic COS surface emissions. The budget of COS and sulfur species is discussed, as well as the effects of SG-COS on the stratospheric sulfate aerosol optical depth (Δ τ = 0.080 in years 2046–2055), aerosol effective radius (0.46 μm), surface SOx deposition (+8.7 %) and tropopause radiative forcing (RF) (−2.0 W/m2 for clear sky conditions and −1.5 W/m2 including the cloud adjustment). Indirect effects on ozone, methane and stratospheric water vapor are also considered, along with the COS direct contribution (with an overall gas phase global radiative forcing of +0.23 W/m2). According to our model results, the resulting net RF of this SG-COS experiment is −1.3 W/m2 for the year 2050, and it is comparable to the corresponding RF of −1.7 W/m2 obtained with a sustained injection of 4 Tg-S/yr in the tropical lower stratosphere in the form of SO2 (SG-SO2, able to produce a comparable increase of the sulfate aerosol optical depth). Significant changes of the stratospheric ozone response are found in SG-COS with respect to SG-SO2 (+4.9 DU versus +1.5 DU, globally). According to the model results, the resulting UVB perturbation at the surface accounts to −4.3 % as a global-annual average (versus −2.4 % in the SG-SO2 case), with a springtime Antarctic decrease of −2.7 % (versus a +5.8 % increase in the SG-SO2 experiment). Overall, we find that an increase in COS surface emission may be feasible, and produce a more latitudinally-uniform forcing without the need for the deployment of stratospheric aircrafts.“