About the Project

SPICE (Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering) is a project investigating the feasibility of putting particles into the stratosphere in order to affect global temperatures.

Solar radiation management using stratospheric aerosols could potentially prevent the worst effects of anthropogenic global warming. The inspiration for this type of geoengineering technique is the observed natural behaviour of volcanoes which can inject significant quantities of particles into the stratosphere, having an overall cooling effect on global temperatures. SPICE is looking at a relatively new technology, and, because of this, the project team are implementing undertaking a newly-emerging and constantly developing responsible innovation approach. Stakeholder perceptions and interaction are also crucially important to the project team because SPICE is investigating something that could potentially affect everyone on the planet.

What is geoengineering?

Geoengineering has been defined by the Royal Society (2009) as: “the deliberate large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment to counteract anthropogenic climate change”. One category of geoengineering techniques is Solar Radiation Management (SRM) in which one attempts to control global temperatures via altering the global energy flux; either by reducing short wave isolation or increasing the outgoing long wave component. Aerosols injected into the Stratosphere is the SRM technique which has been identified as potentially the most affordable and effective option for reducing incident short-wave radiation (Royal Society, 2009).

Could we need solar radiation management?

The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report (IPCC, 2007) depicts a rapidly warming Earth surface; a trend that will continue for decades due to anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols. To avoid the impacts of dangerous future climate change, which may involve rapid sea ice contraction, sea level rise, extreme weather patterns and food shortages to name but a few; the scientific consensus calls for a significant global reduction in greenhouse gas emissions during this half of the century. Despite this, international political and societal response to mitigation has been poor.

The SPICE project has three parts:

1 Evaluating Candidate Particles

Aiming to understand the ways light and heat radiation interact with aerosol particles

Working package 1
Next step
2 Delivery Systems

Hoping to discover how best to deliver particles into the stratosphere

Working package 2
Next step
3 Climate and Environmental Modelling

Determining what could happen if we were to use the chosen particles and delivery system

Working package 3

The output of this project will inform descision-makers and stakeholders about the feasibility of this technique and any environmental or social impacts it might have.