Cloud Brightening: Will It Brighten Our Future?


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                Climate change has become one of the most predominant topics in science over the recent years.  Scientists have conducted various studies to determine if it's actually occurring, what causes it, and how to prevent it.  Now that it is known that climate change is in fact happening, more of the focus is on how to stop and prevent it.  There are tons of theories and methods, but one that caught my eye is called cloud brightening.  Cloud brightening involves shooting tiny particles of salt water into the air in order to brighten clouds and make them more reflective of sunlight (Poppick).  This method seems a little strange and it raises some questions: Will it really work?  Is it affordable and practical?  Are there any risks?  These questions are crucial when it comes to climate change prevention.

                Cloud brightening is a weird term that may throw people off.  It doesn't sound like a very scientific term, and some people probably think it sounds a little childish.  It is a very legit technique, though, and it is a form of geoengineering (Poppick).  Geoengineering is defined as "the deliberate large-scale manipulation of an environmental process that affects the earth's climate, in an attempt to counteract the effects of global warming." (Oxford).  Cloud brightening seems to be one of the cheapest and easiest methods of geoengineering, which is why it is so appealing to scientists (Geoengineering).  The actual machines that spray the particles are a little complex to design, but other than that, cloud brightening is relatively simple.  These particle spraying machines can be mounted on unmanned ships and patrol the oceans on their own.  Here is a picture of what a cloud brightening ship would look like:

 1126cloudsystem.jpg

There could be some concern about over 1000 unmanned ships floating around.  It has potential to cause some troubles with things such as water traffic (Geoengineering).  Other than that, though, cloud brightening seems to be a pretty safe method for reducing climate change.  It is also reversible meaning that the machines could be shut off and everything would go back to normal in a short time (Poppick).  Cloud brightening will continue to be studied and tested, and maybe one day it will become a major player in the game of preventing and reducing climate change.  The issue is that our world is changing and we have to start taking measures to stop it.  Could cloud brightening become the solution of the future?  We do not know yet, but scientists will continue to conduct research to come up with a solid method for putting an end to climate change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

"Geoengineering." Definition of. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/geoengineering>.

"Geoengineering." Geoengineering. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://geoengineeringchem465.webs.com/cloudbrightening.htm>.

Poppick, Laura. "Could Marine Cloud Machines Cool the Planet?" Mongabay.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://news.mongabay.com/2012/1126-ucsc-poppick-geoengineering.html>.

 

4 Comments

Clever, but by no means practical. If i'm not mistaken these floating machines would require a source of power and constant maintenance, both of which are very expensive. Also how many of these would be required to make a real difference? The north pole and Antarctica also could not provide the salt water or the environment for these devices to work. The costs and logistics of operation would require immense cooperation and support among nations. Maybe when there is an unlimited, reliable source of energy this will be realistic but then will climate change even be a problem?

According to The Journal Of Geophysical Research, VOL. 114, D10106, 9 PP., 2009 cloud brightening would mainly cool the oceans and not affect land temperature much. Cloud brightening over the South Atlantic would produce severe drought over the Amazon, destroying the tropical forest. I don't completely understand all the science behind it but from what I do understand this idea is cool but I just can't see how it will be effective. I wonder how long it will take for it to actually make a difference. How are these ships going to be powered? How will we know if they work? What particles is it spraying up there? I think the idea is very interesting but I don't feel that it will be the ultimate solution to climate change.
P.S. I also didn't know that there was such a thing as water traffic

While this is a cool idea I'd have to agree with Mayra and Aaron, I dont believe this is practical at all. Im not sure I fully understand the idea but shooting water particles into the air would just create more clouds, and clouds actually trap heat ont he earth so its confusing to me how it would work. Not only would they be very difficult and im assuming expensive to build the issue of how they would be powered is a huge one. Furthermore lets say by chance (depending on how many there are, a very small chance) what if one of our machines crashes into one from another country, who is liable at that point if they are not controlled by anyone? And if they are controlled by people then that adds to the expense. While this idea is certainly interesting I feel as though it should be abandoned because it is not practical enough.

I'm a bit skeptical. While I understand that this is just a concept idea, this would be incredibly expensive and it may be cheaper for the world to look at preventive measures for global warming. We still have time to turn things around, but we need to act soon. This idea will take far too long to implement. We need to start at the individual level, and there are plenty of things we can all do. Here are ten things that everyone can do to make a difference.
Some of them include:
Recycling (Especially harmful materials and electronics)
Drive Smarter (And more efficiently)
Conserve Electricity (It has to come from somewhere)

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