Glacier evolution in high mountain Asia under stratospheric sulfate aerosol
injection geoengineering

Abstract. Geoengineering by stratospheric sulfate aerosol injection may
help preserve mountain glaciers by reducing summer temperatures. We examine
this hypothesis for the glaciers in High Mountain Asia using a glacier mass
balance model driven by climate simulations from the Geoengineering Model
Intercomparison Project (GeoMIP). The G3 and G4 schemes specify use of
stratospheric sulphate aerosols to reduce the radiative forcing under the
Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 4.5 scenario for the 50 years
between 2020 and 2069, and for a further 20 years after termination of
geoengineering. We estimate and compare glaciers volume loss for every
glacier in the region using a model based on glacier surface mass balance
parameterization under climate projections from 3 Earth System Models under
G3, 5 under G4 and 6 under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5. G3 keeps the summer mean
temperature from increasing in the geoengineering period, but termination
of geoengineering leads to sudden temperature rise of about 1.7 ºC and
corresponding increase in glacier retreat. Glacier volume in inner Tibet
and eastern Himalaya is least affected by greenhouse gas forcing, and also
benefits the most from geoengineering. The ensemble mean projections
suggest that glacier shrinkage over the period 2010–2069 are equivalent to
sea-level rises of 8.4 mm (G3), 10.7 mm (G4), 14.7 mm (RCP 4.5) and 16.8 mm
(RCP8.5). After the termination of geoengineering, annual mean volume loss
rate for all the glaciers under G3 increases from 0.39 % a−1 to 0.90 % a−1,
which are higher than the 0.70 % a−1 under RCP8.5 at that time. While
sulphate 30 aerosol injection geoengineering may slow glacier loss in the
region, it cannot prevent about a third of existing glacier coverage
disappearing by 2069.

Citation: Zhao, L., Yang, Y., Ji, D., and Moore, J. C.: Glacier evolution
in high mountain Asia under stratospheric sulfate aerosol injection
geoengineering, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., doi:10.5194/acp-2016-830, in
review, 2016.

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