This grant is for support of the 2020 Gordon Research Conference and Gordon Research Seminar in Climate Engineering, to be held from June 27 to July 3, 2020 at Sunday River in Newry, ME. The funds will partially cover registration and travel costs for US-based invited speakers and discussion leaders, and for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and other early career investigators. Climate Engineering (CE), also known as Solar Geoengineering, involves reflecting some sunlight back to space in order to cool the climate, with the intent of reducing the impacts of climate change. Potential approaches include stratospheric aerosol interventions (SAI), marine cloud brightening (MCB), and cirrus cloud thinning (CCT). However, not enough is known about these ideas to support informed future societal decisions. While reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an essential part of any response to climate change, it is very likely too late for this to be sufficient: there is significant risk of increasingly severe climate change impacts even with rapid global decarbonization. Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) needs to be part of a long-term solution, but it is uncertain that these largely untested ideas can be developed and scaled up quickly enough. Given this context, a limited deployment of CE, in addition to emission-reductions and CDR, may be the only available pathway to limit many climate impacts.
The science of CE has overlaps with other aspects of climate science, but there are a number of unique issues, starting from the fact that it involves an engineering "design" aspect: different choices will lead to different impacts, leading to questions of how best to make these choices. Further, for either stratospheric aerosols or cloud modification applications, the potentially large perturbations can result in unique science requirements. The urgency of societal need, combined with the unique science and engineering needs, led to the formation of the Gordon Research Conference (GRC) series on Climate Engineering, with the first meeting in 2017. The 2020 GRC focus will be on both processes and impacts, including an engineering perspective and informed by the societal context. New in 2020 is a Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) that provides opportunities for early-career researchers.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.