Two new Mexico teams to explore impacts of SRM on heatwaves and biodiversity loss

Degrees-funded scientists Julián Velasco and Graciela Raga from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico. Photo Credit: the Degrees Initiative.

The Degrees Initiative is delighted to announce funding today for the first two solar radiation modification (SRM) research teams based in Mexico. Led by Dr Graciela Lucia Binimelis de Raga and Dr Julián A. Velasco from the Institute for Atmospheric Sciences and Climate Change at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), the teams will model how climate change and SRM might impact heatwaves and biodiversity, respectively, across Mexico and Central America.  

Mexico is on the frontlines of climate change, already experiencing temperature increases above the global average over the last 100 years. Last year, Mexico’s heatwaves broke records, resulting in over 200 deaths, while changes in climate are also expected to have a major impact on the region’s rich biodiversity.  

By modelling the potential impacts of SRM and climate change, these scientists will contribute to an evidence base that policy makers in Mexico and Central America can use to make informed decisions about reducing climate risks. This is research conducted by Latin Amercian scientists working at a Mexican University, who will communicate their findings openly to key stakeholders through peer-reviewed academic publications.   

Last year, Mexico announced an intention to ban outdoor solar geoengineering activities after an American start-up company attempted a small-scale SRM balloon test on Mexican territory.  

Unlike that controversial small-scale for-profit ‘deployment’, the two new Degrees-funded scientific teams will conduct responsible computer-based modelling research on the potential effects of SRM on climate change, heatwaves, and biodiversity. This supports Degrees’ central mission – while we take no position on whether SRM should ever be used, we want developing countries to have the capacity to do their own research and to have an informed role in any future governance discussions and decisions on its use or non-use.   

Find out more about the new teams and projects here. 

Graciela Raga

“Climate extremes are increasing all over the world. In Mexico, millions of people are being affected by heatwaves and related impacts – last year’s heatwave was a shocking example, and already this year, temperatures are breaking records. More research is needed into the atmospheric changes associated to climate change, so our study will evaluate how SRM implementation alongside climate change might impact heatwaves in the region. It’s important we understand potential impacts – positive or negative – that SRM could have in the region, to help inform decision making should the technology be explored in the future.”

Dr Graciela Raga

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM)

“The future of SRM lies in the countries of the Global South doing their own research and making their own minds up, not in start-up companies doing stunt “experiments” for profit. We are proud to support the first responsible SRM research in Mexico and we look forward to learning from these exciting new studies on heatwaves and biodiversity.”

Andy Parker

CEO and Founder, The Degrees Initiative

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Mexico is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, but many animal and plant species are threatened by different human pressures. We also don’t have enough research assessing the impacts of climate change on biodiversity regionally, limiting the information available to policymakers on key conservation issues. There are even fewer studies, to our knowledge, about how SRM could affect biodiversity, regionally and globally. To address this gap, our study will use cutting-edge modelling to evaluate how species could be affected by both climate change and potential climate mitigation strategies like SRM.” 

Dr Julián Velasco

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM)