How could we cool down our planet? Scientists Washington want to try brightening the clouds above the oceans. This sci-fi-sounding idea is actually built on real foundations.
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The Marine Cloud Brightening Project is researching what is happening in the relatively thin troposphere layer between the oceans and the lowest levels of storms. This area is filled with aerosol created from breaking waves, microscopic salt grains, and other minerals.
Over time, these crystals will get about a kilometer higher where thanks to a lot of water vapor in the air and lower temperature they will create small drops from which clouds are made from.
If the drops are small and there is a lot of them then the cloud will be lighter. This, similarly to how the white polar caps reflect solar energy back into space, will almost work like the opposite of the greenhouse effect.
In the past, scientists observed that it is not only nature that creates these snow-white clouds. Naval transport can create them as well. This is because a ship’s engine produces microscopic particles from burning fossil fuels and these work as condensation cores that will create clouds higher in the atmosphere.
The scientists want to try to do the same thing just instead of using fossil fuel fumes they would like to use salt from seawater just like nature. But do it on purpose.
They would like to add large seawater aerosol sprays on ships. The water would almost immediately evaporate and convection will carry them up in the air where they can start forming clouds.
The point lies that hopefully, by placing enough well-chosen crystals at a certain spot we could create a cloud that will stay in the atmosphere for much longer than a natural cloud. And since it will be even lighter it will reflect more energy back into space.
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