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Researchers from ICMPA to explore how solar geoengineering could affect the West African Climate

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Scientists from ICMPA have been awarded a research grant to explore how solar radiation management geoengineering (SRM) could reduce or add to climate change risks in West Africa.

SRM geoengineering is a controversial proposal for reducing the risks of climate change by reflecting away a small amount of solar energy, for instance by injecting reflective particles into the upper atmosphere. Scientists are clear that SRM cannot be an alternative to cutting emissions of greenhouses gases. However, if it could be made to work safely and reliably, SRM would be the only known way to quickly stop global temperatures from rising. Therefore, it might offer a way to reduce some of the climate risks that Earth is already committed to. However, there are still large uncertainties around the possible benefits and drawbacks of SRM, and it could add to the risks of global warming or provoke international tensions.

Developing countries have an especially high stake in discussions about SRM. They are often less resilient to environmental change and more vulnerable to the impacts of global warming, which means they stand to gain or lose the most from SRM – whether it is ultimately used or rejected. However, most of the research and discussion of SRM has taken place in developed countries.

Impacts of climate change in Benin and more generally in West Africa include an increase of atmospheric temperatures, floods, sea level rise, acceleration of coastal erosion, modification of the monsoon precipitations and regional hydrology. These effects, among others, can have dramatic socio-economical consequences due to their impact on agriculture, water resources and human health. It is therefore important to promote regional research works on climate change issues in West Africa in order to help decision-makers defining strategies and action plans to better anticipate and adapt to climate change impacts.
In this context, the team propose to investigate the possible impact of SRM on the West African climate. The main objective is thus to determine how climate engineering could reduce or not the impacts of climate change on the West African precipitation regime and on rivers discharges. An ensemble of control runs and SRM projection scenarios from GeoMIP and/or GLENS will be analysed and statistical analyses will be applied to define robustness indicators. The results obtained within this research project can therefore potentially help local governments to identify and better manage their climate risks.

The Solar Radiation Management Governance Initiative (SRMGI) is an international, non-governmental project that was launched in 2010 by Environmental Defense Fund www.edf.org/, The World Academy of Sciences www.twas.org/ (TWAS), and the Royal Society www.royalsociety.org/. It seeks to build developing country capacity to evaluate and discuss SRM. SRMGI is funded by a grant from the Open Philanthropy Project www.openphilanthropy.org/, a joint venture between GiveWell and Good Ventures.

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