University of Exeter
Project Title: HOw To POTentially cool the planet (HOTPOT)
The global mean surface temperature is about 1.2 C higher than in the pre-industrial period (1850-1900) as per the sixth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report unequivocally attributes this warming to human activities. Further, the rate of warming in recent decades is unprecedented in at least the last 2,000 years and the global mean warming is likely to overshoot the target 1.5 C above the pre-industrial level within the next 10-15 years. These concerns have led to growing interest in ‘climate intervention’ via so-called Solar Radiation Management (SRM) strategies whereby the Earth is deliberately brightened to reflect an additional small proportion of sunlight away from it resulting in a cooling of climate. Indeed, in February 2023 the United Nations Environment Panel has called for establishing “a robust, equitable and rigorous trans-disciplinary scientific review process to reduce uncertainties associated with SRM and better inform decision-making”. It is anticipated that the work performed by the student will contribute to this review and will provide cutting-edge information to UK and international policy-makers.
The most notable SRM strategies include injecting scattering aerosol into the stratosphere (stratospheric aerosol injection) and the deliberate brightening of low-altitude clouds (marine cloud brightening). These methods have been shown in climate modelling studies and from naturally occurring explosive and effusive volcanic eruptions to brighten the planet and exert a considerable cooling influence. The University of Exeter/Met Office Hadley Centre are the UK’s leading climate modelling centres for SRM, having provided the UK’s contributions to the Geoengineering model intercomparison project (GeoMIP) since 2011.
The PhD studentship will include performing simulations with the UKESM1 climate model of both stratospheric aerosol injection and marine cloud brightening. Simulations will include maintaining the global mean temperature at 1.5 C and 2 C above pre-industrial levels and “peak-shaving” scenarios where SRM is used as a temporary measure to reduce peak global warming until carbon dioxide levels stabilise. The PhD studentship will examine various combinations of SAI and MCB to minimise any detrimental residual impacts on the Earth’s climate. The impacts of different deployment strategies such as at different latitudes and altitudes of injection for stratospheric aerosol and in different regions of susceptible low-level cloud for marine cloud brightening will be investigated. The studentship is fully funded by the University of Exeter and SilverLining , who are a US not-for-profit philanthropically funded NGO focused on near-term climate risks. The student will join a vibrant group of researchers investigating the climatic impacts of aerosols and clouds.
This award provides annual funding to cover tuition fees and a tax-free stipend for home students and for international students. The award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £17,668 per year tax-free stipend.
The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 3.5 years of full-time study to commence on 25 September 2023.
International applicants need to be aware that you will have to cover the cost of your student visa, healthcare surcharge and other costs of moving to the UK to engage in a PhD.
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