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https://doi.org/10.22541/essoar.169755495.51174285/v1
https://doi.org/10.22541/essoar.169755495.51174285/v1
12 Dec 2023
 | 12 Dec 2023

Opinion: Exploring potential atmospheric methane removal approaches: an example research roadmap for chlorine radical enhancement

Katrine A. Gorham, Sam Abernethy, Tyler R. Jones, Peter Hess, Natalie M. Mahowald, Daphne Meidan, Matthew S. Johnson, Maarten M. J. W. van Herpen, Yangyang Xu, Alfonso Saiz-Lopez, Thomas Röckmann, Chloe A. Brashear, Erika Reinhardt, and David Mann

Abstract. The escalating climate crisis requires rapid action to reduce the concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases and lower global surface temperatures. Methane will play a critical role in near-term warming due to its high radiative forcing and short atmospheric lifetime. Methane emissions have accelerated in recent years and there is significant risk and uncertainty associated with the future growth in natural emissions. The largest natural sink of methane occurs through oxidation reactions with atmospheric hydroxyl and chlorine radicals. Enhanced atmospheric oxidation could be a potential approach to remove atmospheric methane. One method proposes the addition of iron salt aerosols (ISA) to the atmosphere, mimicking a natural process proposed to occur when mineral dust mixes with chloride from sea spray to form iron chlorides, which are photolyzed by sunlight to produce chlorine radicals. Under the right conditions, lofting ISA into the atmosphere could potentially reduce atmospheric methane concentrations and lower global surface temperatures. Recognizing that potential atmospheric methane removal must only be considered as an additive measure – in addition to, not replacing, crucial anthropogenic greenhouse gas emission reductions and carbon dioxide removal – roadmaps can be a valuable tool to organize and streamline interdisciplinary and multifaceted research to efficiently move towards understanding whether an approach may be viable and socially acceptable, or if it is nonviable and further research should be deprioritized. Here we present an example five-year research roadmap to explore whether ISA enhancement of the chlorine radical sink could be a viable and socially acceptable atmospheric methane removal approach.

Katrine A. Gorham, Sam Abernethy, Tyler R. Jones, Peter Hess, Natalie M. Mahowald, Daphne Meidan, Matthew S. Johnson, Maarten M. J. W. van Herpen, Yangyang Xu, Alfonso Saiz-Lopez, Thomas Röckmann, Chloe A. Brashear, Erika Reinhardt, and David Mann

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2959', Anonymous Referee #1, 30 Dec 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2959', Anonymous Referee #2, 10 Jan 2024
  • AC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2959', Katrine Gorham, 09 Feb 2024
Katrine A. Gorham, Sam Abernethy, Tyler R. Jones, Peter Hess, Natalie M. Mahowald, Daphne Meidan, Matthew S. Johnson, Maarten M. J. W. van Herpen, Yangyang Xu, Alfonso Saiz-Lopez, Thomas Röckmann, Chloe A. Brashear, Erika Reinhardt, and David Mann
Katrine A. Gorham, Sam Abernethy, Tyler R. Jones, Peter Hess, Natalie M. Mahowald, Daphne Meidan, Matthew S. Johnson, Maarten M. J. W. van Herpen, Yangyang Xu, Alfonso Saiz-Lopez, Thomas Röckmann, Chloe A. Brashear, Erika Reinhardt, and David Mann

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Short summary
Rapid reduction of atmospheric methane is needed to slow the rate of global warming. Reducing anthropogenic methane emissions is the top priority. However, atmospheric methane is also impacted by rising natural emissions and changing sinks. Study of possible atmospheric methane removal approaches, such as iron salt aerosols to increase the chlorine radical sink, benefit from a roadmapped approach to understand if there may be viable and socially acceptable ways to decrease future risk.