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2024 Climate Engineering Gordon Research Conference and Gordon Research Seminar

Active Dates 12/1/2023-3/31/2024
Program Area Atmospheric System Research
Project Description
2024 Gordon Research Conference on Climate Engineering

S. Doherty, PI, CICOES, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington (PI)

S. Tilmes, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, Colorado (co-I)

Overview: Climate Engineering (CE), also known as Solar Climate Intervention, Solar Radiation Modification (SRM) or Geoengineering, involves reflecting some sunlight back to space in order to cool the climate, with the intent of reducing the impacts of climate change. Potential approaches include stratospheric aerosol intervention (SAI), marine cloud brightening (MCB), cirrus cloud thinning (CCT), and the deployment of reflective surfaces in space. While reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an essential part of any response to climate change, and carbon dioxide removal may be part of a long-term solution, there is significant risk of increasingly severe climate change impacts even with rapidly increasing global decarbonization. Given this context, CE may be the only available pathway to limit many near-term climate impacts. However, understanding of their efficacy and how they would affect climate risks is still quite limited.

The urgent need to address increasing climate change impacts, combined with the unique science and engineering needs associated with CE, led to the formation of the Gordon Research Conference (GRC) series on Climate Engineering, with the first meeting held in Maine in 2017. The 2020 meeting was postponed to June 2022 due to COVID-19, again held in Maine. A Gordon Research Seminar (GRS), focused on early-career researchers, was added in 2022.  

Funds are requested for the 2024 GRC and GRS in Climate Engineering, February 18-23, 2024 at the GRC meeting venue the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco in Lucca, Italy. Funds will cover registration and travel costs for invited speakers and discussion leaders, and for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and other early career investigators, preferentially those based in the U.S. The conference will bring together experts across multiple disciplines from the U.S. and internationally, with emphasis on including participation from the “Global South”, for an intensive week of presentations and discussions on the latest science and future directions.

Potential Impact of the Project: The conference will help disseminate current research and spark new ideas and collaborations in CE. This is essential to better develop the knowledge that society will need to make informed decisions – with the potential to substantially reduce future climate risks. Support for the conference will, in particular, enable the participation of exceptional early-career scientists with diverse backgrounds and from underrepresented groups. Any decisions about whether and how to implement CE would need to be made with well-informed, international participation in the decision process. The Gordon Conference is a unique opportunity to support two-way interaction between scientists from countries spanning a broad range of scientific research capacity and understanding of what impacts are important to local communities. We expect the shift to the venue in Italy will allow us to maximize this opportunity to engage significant international participation.

Assessing the leading CE mechanisms (SAI, MCB and CCT) fundamentally involves the study of aerosols, clouds and aerosol-cloud interactions. As such, the goals of the conference align well with the major research objective of the Biological and Environmental Research (BER) program, to: “1. Understand the physics, chemistry, and dynamics governing clouds, aerosols, and precipitation interactions, with a goal to advance the predictive understanding of the Earth system.” The Earth System Model studies of how CE will affect climate risks and impacts also directly relate to BER’s objective to: “3. Develop, evaluate and analyze complex models of Earth and environmental systems, in order to understand trends, variability, change, and patterns of extremes, including improved understanding of system component interactions and co-evolution of the systems.”
Award Recipient(s)
  • Gordon Research Conferences (PI: Doherty, Sarah)