Stephen Salter from the University Edinburgh and John Latham from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado think they have found a way to make clouds more helpful in protecting against global warming.
The whole science is called geo-engineering and it is the idea that we can alter or tweak some of nature’s already available resources to help us protect ourselves from … well, ourselves really.
Salter and Latham have come up with the idea that we can increase the reflectivity of Marine Stratocumulus Clouds by spraying them with salt water. The idea is that by spraying the clouds with salt water the particles of the cloud will get redistributed thereby increasing their reflectivity. This increased reflectivity will bounce more sunlight back into space instead of allowing it to come down to Earth.
Some fear that playing with nature like this will harm the precious environment that we have left while others believe that experiments like this are life-saving and will eventually keep us from killing ourselves with all the environmently un-friendly activities we already do (hello pollution).
At this point Salter and Latham still need to do more testing before they can draw a conclusion. They plan to release 300 salt flares off the coast of South Africa to do just that.
Clouds can also mitigate the drought effects that are projected to occur from climate change in many parts of the world. Clouds accumulate in forested areas, some have called this the, “cloud combing” effect. This is particularly important in upland cloud forests that capture water for downstream plant and animal communities. Planting forests would help capture clouds, fog, and moisture that might otherwise blow over. This moisture would also be held in the soil longer from the trees. As the plants released the moisture, new clouds would form from evapotranspiration. If your answering questions on this website your already helping this process!
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