Protecting the Arctic

Written evidence submitted by Professor John Latham, UCAR, Boulder, USA Professor Tom Choularton, University of Manchester Professor Brian Launder, FRS, University of Manchester, Professor Hugh Coe, University of Manchester, Professor Stephen Salter, University of Edinburgh, and Dr Alan Gadian, University of Leeds

There is a mounting evidence that significant changes are occurring in the Arctic and we are pleased that your Committee is considering this in detail. However, we would like to stress that whilst such indicators of rapid change are a major cause for concern, implementing any geo-engineering approach to adjust an Arctic warming on the basis of its undemonstrated, causal effects on rapid Arctic change should not be considered at this time. Any such scheme needs to have its concepts rigorously challenged and then undergo rigorous, peer reviewed testing and scrutiny before any consideration of its use takes place.

Systematic, deliberate modification of climate is, itself, likely to have effects on global weather systems, including large scale changes to regional rainfall. Such changes have been shown to occur in climate model simulations but as the key processes remain poorly understood at the present time, the climate models, our only predictive tools, are at present unable to provide a reliable means of quantifying the magnitude of the changes that may occur. Until this can be done and the balance of risks be well understood we strongly urge that a geo-engineering solution of any kind is not to taken forward to address changing Arctic temperatures.

Nevertheless, the increased evidence that such major changes may occur and the lack of progress in mitigating CO2 induced climate change means that investing in research into the viability of geo-engineering is both very important and timely. Furthermore, it is important that Government does support the area, as the evidence base needs to be considered free from vested interests.

21 February 2012

Prepared 20th March 2012