Review Paper


, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 350-369

First online:

Ecosystem Impacts of Geoengineering: A Review for Developing a Science Plan

  • Lynn M. RussellAffiliated withScripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego Email author 
  • , Philip J. RaschAffiliated withPacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • , Georgina M. MaceAffiliated withCentre for Population Biology, Imperial College London
  • , Robert B. JacksonAffiliated withNicholas School of the Environment, Duke University
  • , John ShepherdAffiliated withEarth System Science, School of Ocean and Earth Sciences, National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton, European Way
  • , Peter LissAffiliated withSchool of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia
  • , Margaret LeinenAffiliated withHarbor Branch Oceanographic Institute
  • , David SchimelAffiliated withNEON Inc
  • , Naomi E. VaughanAffiliated withTyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia
    • , Anthony C. JanetosAffiliated withJoint Global Change Research Institute Pacific Northwest National Laboratory/University of Maryland
    • , Philip W. BoydAffiliated withNIWA Centre of Chemical & Physical Oceanography, Department of Chemistry, University of Otago
    • , Richard J. NorbyAffiliated withEnvironmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
    • , Ken CaldeiraAffiliated withDepartment of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution
    • , Joonas MerikantoAffiliated withDivision of Atmospheric Sciences, Department of Physics, University of Helsinki
    • , Paulo ArtaxoAffiliated withInstitute of Physics, University of São Paulo
    • , Jerry MelilloAffiliated withThe Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory
    • , M. Granger MorganAffiliated withDepartment of Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University

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Geoengineering methods are intended to reduce climate change, which is already having demonstrable effects on ecosystem structure and functioning in some regions. Two types of geoengineering activities that have been proposed are: carbon dioxide (CO2) removal (CDR), which removes CO2 from the atmosphere, and solar radiation management (SRM, or sunlight reflection methods), which reflects a small percentage of sunlight back into space to offset warming from greenhouse gases (GHGs). Current research suggests that SRM or CDR might diminish the impacts of climate change on ecosystems by reducing changes in temperature and precipitation. However, sudden cessation of SRM would exacerbate the climate effects on ecosystems, and some CDR might interfere with oceanic and terrestrial ecosystem processes. The many risks and uncertainties associated with these new kinds of purposeful perturbations to the Earth system are not well understood and require cautious and comprehensive research.


Geoengineering Ecosystems Climate change Carbon dioxide removal Solar radiation management