The cost of stratospheric climate engineering revisited

  • Ryo MoriyamaEmail author
  • Masahiro SugiyamaEmail author
  • Atsushi Kurosawa
  • Kooiti Masuda
  • Kazuhiro Tsuzuki
  • Yuki Ishimoto
Original Article


Stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI) has been receiving increasing attention as a possible option for climate engineering. Its direct cost is perceived to be low, which has implications for international governance of this emerging technology. Here, we critically synthesize previous estimates of the underlying parameters and examine the total costs of SAI. It is evident that there have been inconsistencies in some assumptions and the application of overly optimistic parameter values in previous studies, which have led to an overall underestimation of the cost of aircraft-based SAI with sulfate aerosols. The annual cost of SAI to achieve cooling of 2 W/m2 could reach US$10 billion with newly designed aircraft, which contrasts with the oft-quoted estimate of “a few billion dollars.” If existing aircraft were used, the cost would be expected to increase further. An SAI operation would be a large-scale engineering undertaking, possibly requiring a fleet of approximately 1,000 aircraft, because of the required high altitude of the injection. Therefore, because of its significance, a more thorough investigation of the engineering aspects of SAI and the associated uncertainties is warranted.


Climate change Cost analysis Geoengineering Global warming Solar radiation management 



We thank Mr. K. Funato and Mr. S. Fujimoto of Tokyo Dylec Corp. for useful comments on liquid-atomization technologies. We also thank Dr. Jeffrey Pierce, Dr. David Keith, Dr. Ben Kravitz, Mr. Justin McClellan, and Dr. Ulrike Niemeier for sharing their data with us, and we thank Dr. Wilfried Rickels for helpful discussions. The constructive comments by Dr. Keith on an earlier version of this manuscript helped us improve the content considerably. This research was supported by the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund (S-10) of the Ministry of the Environment, Japan (

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ryo Moriyama
    • 1
    Email author
  • Masahiro Sugiyama
    • 2
    Email author
  • Atsushi Kurosawa
    • 1
  • Kooiti Masuda
    • 3
  • Kazuhiro Tsuzuki
    • 1
  • Yuki Ishimoto
    • 1
  1. 1.The Institute of Applied EnergyTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Policy Alternatives Research InstituteThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC)YokohamaJapan

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