Grants for Central America and Mexico
This special regional call for proposals for Degrees Modelling Fund (DMF) grants opens on 30 May and runs until 31 August 2023 (23:59 British Summer Time). These grants will support teams of scientists in Central America and Mexico as they model how solar radiation modification geoengineering (SRM) could affect the climate impacts that matter most locally. Grants of up to USD 75,000 will be awarded to the most promising proposals, which are evaluated by independent peer review. Please read the application guide below for more information about the grants, eligibility, and how to apply.
Solar radiation modification (SRM) is a controversial proposal for reducing some of the impacts of climate change by reflecting away a small fraction of inbound sunlight. Learn more about SRM here. Historically, most SRM research has taken place in the Global North, and most SRM modelling research has focused on its potential impacts on the global climate.
There has been less research into the regional impacts of SRM, particularly in the Global South. How would SRM affect the climate variables that matter most to people’s lives and livelihoods, such as extremes of temperature or precipitation, droughts, sea level rise, or impacts on agriculture, biodiversity, or health? These are the kinds of questions that DMF was set up to explore.
The DMF is the first international SRM research fund and the first aimed entirely at developing countries and emerging economies. It was launched in 2018 by the Degrees Initiative (formerly SRMGI), Environmental Defense Fund, and The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) in an effort to build the capacity of developing countries to evaluate solar radiation management.
The fund provides grants to small research teams in the Global South, allowing them to analyse the impacts that SRM might have in their regions. To date, the DMF has supported over 150 scientists through 26 SRM research projects, including the first projects in South America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. To get an idea of the DMF studies to date, see the full list here.
There are several objectives of the DMF grants:
Read more about the DMF experience here.
In this special call for proposals, we invite applications from small research teams based in Central America and Mexico (see Eligibility and Selection below) who would like to understand how SRM could affect their local climate, and how its impacts compare to those of a warmed world.
Applicants should have clear research proposals for how to model the potential local or regional impacts of SRM. They will need relevant climate impacts modelling expertise, are expected to formulate the scientific questions that their projects will address, and must show that they will use modelling techniques that are appropriate for their projects.
The Degrees Initiative is not prescriptive about the focus of DMF research projects or the methods used to undertake the research. The research can address any aspect of physical climate change, or any climate impact, such as extreme temperature or rainfall, agriculture, ecosystems, or water resources. The first round of DMF studies explored how SRM could affect, amongst other things:
SRM modelling studies simulate a warmed world without SRM and compare it to a world where SRM has been deployed to reduce the warming. In the past, SRM models would just reduce the amount of inbound solar energy to simulate SRM deployment, but more recent model runs have become more sophisticated, and they now simulate aerosol injection at particular latitudes and altitudes. These simulations typically involve the use of a fully coupled global climate model, sometimes alongside other models to study, for instance, how SRM might affect hydrology or crops. Impact studies have typically used downscaling and bias correction to analyse regional effects.
DMF teams work with data generated by large climate model runs, such as:
Many DMF projects will require bias correction and statistical downscaling (such as projects looking at river runoff or crop impacts). Some will not require downscaling of any kind (such as studies of climate impacts with large-scale drivers like monsoon changes or tropical cyclones). Studies requiring dynamical downscaling are likely to be out of the scope of a DMF grant because of the significant computing resources needed and the high financial costs. However, where applicants have the technical expertise and computer access required for dynamical downscaling and could complete their research within the time and financial limits, we would welcome the proposal. Whatever research methods are chosen, applications must demonstrate that suitable modelling techniques will be used and that the research team has the required experience and expertise.
Choice of emissions and SRM deployment scenarios will not be a major factor in the evaluation of applications, as these are often driven by the data set that is used. For instance, the GLENS model simulates the creation of a stratospheric aerosol cloud to stabilise temperatures at 2020 levels under a very high emission pathway, whereas the GeoMIP G6 scenarios simulate using either insolation reduction or stratospheric aerosols to approximately halve the climate forcing from a business-as-usual scenario.
DMF researchers will be able to refine their choice of scenario and data set in consultation with their research collaborators, with the other DMF teams, and during a research planning workshop. For the purposes of the application, it is necessary only to show that a suitable dataset and modelling approach will be used to answer the research question.
To date, there has been little regional analysis of the impacts of SRM and so projects do not necessarily have to be very complex or ambitious to secure DMF funding. A simple project that is well-planned, managed, and executed, could be an excellent contribution.
A list of recommended key publications and background information on SRM science is available on our resources for applicants page.
There has been little or no SRM research in most of the world’s countries, and applicants are thus not expected to be SRM experts. Instead, they need to show that they have experience modelling the impacts of climate change, have done appropriate background reading on SRM, and can demonstrate knowledge of the relevant SRM data sets and modelling techniques.
Project proposals need not be extremely complex or ambitious to secure funding. There has been little study of the regional impacts of SRM, and simple studies done well can make a real contribution. That said, ambitious projects that can be executed competently will score well.
Overall, applications will have a good chance of funding if they:
Capacity-building is also a key objective of the DMF. Teams that have a mix of experienced and early-career scientists, or that include female scientists, will be looked on favourably. Degrees will be looking to support researchers that show promise to become regional leaders in the field of SRM research.
Applicants are welcome to discuss potential research projects with the Degrees Initiative before submission by emailing email@example.com. But please note that we do not have the capacity to review proposals and provide comments on the likelihood of receiving funding—here we are guided by independent peer review after the submission deadline.
Applicants will be notified about the outcome of their applications in September or October 2023. Pending successful due diligence, projects are expected to start in December 2023 and be completed by the end of January 2026. A research grant will amount to a maximum of USD 75,000.
As part of each grant, applicants will be able to apply for up to USD 60,000 to support salaries—perhaps covering a small amount of the time of a senior researcher alongside some more junior researchers—and overheads. Capacity-building is a key part of the DMF and applications that fund multiple investigators, especially early career researchers, will be looked on favourably. However, there are no set guidelines for how the salary funds should be allocated, and applicants should explain why they are allocating money as they are.
Each DMF research team will also be allocated a standard contribution of USD 15,000 to support additional activities and equipment related to the grant, including:
Teams that do not need salary support may also apply for DMF grants of USD 15,000 (plus overheads) to support all these sundry expenses. They would also enjoy all the other benefits of being in the DMF research community, including support from world-leading experts as they do their analysis.
Applicants should consider the level of funding necessary for their project to take place at the required standards of excellence. Value for money might be taken into account to decide between equally good proposals, and smaller funding requests might stand higher chances of funding.
Grants will be awarded and administered by the Degrees Initiative through an agreement between the Degrees Initiative, the principal investigator, and their institution.
The awarded team will commit to undertaking its DMF research according to the agreement, and the host institution will commit to providing the appropriate resources and facilities necessary for the project. Equipment, software, and literature provided for the project through the DMF will remain the institution’s property after completion. Each team will be expected to publish at least one research paper in a respected international journal, and principal investigators must submit a final report at the end of the grant period.
The funds for salaries and overheads will be paid to the awarded institution in arrears pending the receipt of satisfactory progress reports as established in the grant agreement. The funds for the standard contribution will be paid upfront upon signing the grant agreement.
Research projects are due to run for 26 months, provisionally from December 2023 to January 2026.
Principal investigators should have a PhD and appropriate research experience. They must be citizens of a developing country or emerging economy AND should work at a university or research institution in one of the following eligible countries:
Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama.
The review of proposals and the allocation of funding will be made according to the following process:
The selection committee will meet towards the end of September 2023, and notification of the results will be made shortly thereafter upon approval by the trustees of the Degrees Initiative. Applicants shortlisted for a grant will receive a conditional award letter addressed to the principal investigator and the head of their institution and undergo a due diligence process. Shortlisted applicants that meet the due diligence requirements will then be officially awarded upon signing a grant agreement.
If you have any questions about the DMF grants or this call for proposals, please first refer to the FAQ available on our resources for applicants page. For any other questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that we do not have the capacity to review proposals and provide comments on the likelihood of receiving funding.