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News
10 October 2017

A new fund for geoengineering research

As climate change advances, scientists and policymakers will explore whether geoengineering can help to manage the sun's radiation. A new fund, administered by TWAS, will support modelling research by scientists in the developing world.

The Solar Radiation Management Governance Initiative – SRMGI – has created a new research fund for modelling the impacts of the geoengineering technique across the developing world.

The fund is called Developing Country Impacts Modelling Analysis for SRM (DECIMALS), founded through a major grant from the Open Philanthropy Project. Managed by TWAS, the fund will support developing country scientists who want to analyse the possible effects geoengineering to limit solar radiation could have on their regions. 

Solar radiation management includes a group of possible techniques to limit climate warming by reflecting some of the sun's energy back into space, or allowing more radiation to escape from the Earth’s atmosphere. For example, some have proposed using space-based reflectors to block a small proportion of sunlight from reaching the Earth, or reflecting some sunlight by dispersing small, reflective particles into the upper atmosphere. Such techniques would face and array of technical, environmental and political challenges.

In recognition of the potential benefits and risks, SRMGI seeks to expand the global conversation around the governance of research into solar radiation geoengineering. Under the DECIMALS programme, each grant will support small research teams to undertake re-analysis of the data already generated by large global climate models. Over two to three years, each DECIMALS modelling team will analyse the climate and SRM impacts that matter most locally – from extreme temperatures to rainfall patterns, tropical cyclones and droughts. 

The main goal is to provide scientists with needed expertise and as a consequence lead to policy-relevant research that will encourage further exploration of solar radiation management in their countries and regions.

The new fund was announced at a major meeting in Berlin of SRMGI partners, including TWAS. 

"TWAS and its partners in the SRMGI project have organized 16 workshops in 13 developing countries over the past few years," said Peter McGrath, coordinator of the TWAS science diplomacy programme. "Through these events, more than 500 scientists and other interested parties have engaged in discussions on solar radiation management. Now we are convening in Berlin, bringing about 50 of these scientists to work across national boundaries for the first time."

As well as the first ever SRMGI Global Forum, they will also take part in the Climate Engineering Conference 2017 – the first time that a significant number of representatives from the developing world will be present at this series of conferences. Ensuring that the developing world is heard at such scientific gatherings is a key TWAS objective.

The call for DECIMALS proposals will come in the weeks ahead, and the first round of grants are planned for the second quarter of 2018. SRMGI expects to award four to seven grants, and anticipates that research projects will take two to three years to complete. 

For six years, SRMGI has led the world in expanding the conversation around SRM to developing countries so that these nations can examine options for future policies. It has run engagement meetings in 13 different countries, in partnership with 20 local organisations including NGOs, science academies and universities. For further information, please contact info@srmgi.org.

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