skip to main content


Title: Marine cloud brightening – as effective without clouds

Marine cloud brightening through sea spray injection has been proposed as a climate engineering method for avoiding the most severe consequences of global warming. A limitation of most of the previous modelling studies on marine cloud brightening is that they have either considered individual models or only investigated the effects of a specific increase in the number of cloud droplets. Here we present results from coordinated simulations with three Earth system models (ESMs) participating in the Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project (GeoMIP) G4sea-salt experiment. Injection rates of accumulation-mode sea spray aerosol particles over ocean between 30°N and 30°S are set in each model to generate a global-mean effective radiative forcing (ERF) of –2.0 W m –2 at the top of the atmosphere. We find that the injection increases the cloud droplet number concentration in lower layers, reduces the cloud-top effective droplet radius, and increases the cloud optical depth over the injection area. We also find, however, that the global-mean clear-sky ERF by the injected particles is as large as the corresponding total ERF in all three ESMs, indicating a large potential of the aerosol direct effect in regions of low cloudiness. The largest enhancement in ERF due to the presence of clouds occur as expected inmore » the subtropical stratocumulus regions off the west coasts of the American and African continents. However, outside these regions, the ERF is in general equally large in cloudy and clear-sky conditions. Lastly, these findings suggest a more important role of the aerosol direct effect in sea spray climate engineering than previously thought.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ; ORCiD logo [3] ; ORCiD logo [4] ; ORCiD logo [5] ;  [4]
  1. Stockholm Univ., Stockholm (Sweden); Univ. of Oslo, Oslo (Norway)
  2. Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter (United Kingdom)
  3. Univ. of Oslo, Oslo (Norway); Center for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo (CICERO), Oslo (Norway)
  4. Univ. of Oslo, Oslo (Norway)
  5. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1680-7324; 453040135; TRN: US1800958
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (Online)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (Online); Journal Volume: 17; Journal Issue: 21; Journal ID: ISSN 1680-7324
European Geosciences Union
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
OSTI Identifier: