An Update on SCoPEx

Mar 18, 2024

The Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx) is a scientific effort initiated by Professors David Keith and Frank Keutsch at Harvard University. SCoPEx was designed to measure the stratospheric behavior of aerosols in plumes to advance scientific knowledge relevant to potential future implementation of solar geoengineering.

In 2019, the University established an external advisory committee to provide guidance on SCoPEx. Today, the Advisory Committee issued its final report to the Vice Provost for Research and the Vice Provost for Climate and Sustainability, available here.

The SCoPEx Advisory Committee served as one of the first bodies responsible for creating a governance framework for a specific solar geoengineering experiment, and its work provides a valuable model for governance of future solar geoengineering experiments.

As the report indicates, in August 2023, the research team conveyed to the Advisory Committee that it had suspended work on SCoPEx. Today, the Principal Investigator of SCoPEx, Professor Frank Keutsch, announced that he is no longer pursuing the experiment. The platform developed for SCoPEx is expected to be repurposed for basic scientific research in the stratosphere unrelated to solar geoengineering.

Through the new Salata Institute for Climate and Sustainability at Harvard University, researchers will explore every dimension of the climate challenge, including mitigation, adaptation, carbon removal, and solar geoengineering. Solar geoengineering research will continue at Harvard under the auspices of the Solar Geoengineering Research Program, which will explore the many dimensions of this issue, including the science and engineering, governance, and political and social implications.

The SCoPEx Advisory Committee provided thoughtful analysis over the course of its regular meetings. We hope that their report provides useful insights for the governance of future research in this area. We thank them for their insights, guidance, and recommendations.


John H. Shaw

Vice Provost for Research, Harvard University

James H Stock

Vice Provost for Climate and Sustainability, and Director, Salata Institute for Climate and Sustainability, Harvard University