Potential for Perceived Failure of Stratospheric Aerosol Injection Deployment

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. This is version 2 of this Preprint.


Download Preprint


Patrick W Keys , Elizabeth A Barnes, Noah S Diffenbaugh, James W Hurrell, Curtis M Bell


As anthropogenic activities continue to warm the Earth, the fundamental solution of reducing greenhouse gas emissions remains elusive. Given this mitigation gap, global warming may lead to intolerable climate changes as local adaptive capacity is exceeded. Thus, there is emerging interest in solar radiation management, which is the process of deliberately increasing Earth's albedo to cool the planet. Stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI) — the theoretical deployment of particles in the stratosphere to enhance reflection of incoming solar radiation — is one possible strategy to slow, pause or reverse global warming. If SAI is ever pursued it will likely be for a specific aim, such as allowing more time to implement mitigation strategies, lessening the impacts of extremes, or significantly reducing the odds of reaching a biogeophysical tipping point. Using an ensemble of climate model simulations that employ SAI, we quantify the probability that internal climate variability masks the effectiveness of SAI deployment regionally. We find that, when global temperature is stabilized, substantial land areas continue to experience warming temperatures. For example, up to 55% of the global population experiences rising temperatures over the decade following SAI deployment, and large areas exhibit high probability of extremely hot years. These conditions could cause SAI to be perceived as a failure. Countries with the largest economies experience some of the largest probabilities of this perceived failure. The potential for perceived failure of even the most successful SAI strategy could therefore have major implications for policy decisions in the years immediately following deployment.




Atmospheric Sciences, Climate, Sustainability


climate change, internal climate variability, Solar Geoengineering, perception, mitigation, global warming, stratospheric aerosol injection


Published: 2022-06-17 12:25

Older Versions

CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

Additional Metadata

Conflict of interest statement:

Data Availability (Reason not available):
All data used in this analysis is publicly available.

Add a Comment

You must log in to post a comment.


There are no comments or no comments have been made public for this article.