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Cloud brightening: First-in-nation tech aims to cool our warming planet

Scientists are testing a controversial idea in the Bay Area for cooling our warming planet.

In Alameda, the group is using the first technology in the country to test ways to brighten clouds in an effort to cool the globe. The project is being held on the USS Hornet.

Jessica Medrado, who is one of the scientists from the University of Washington’s Marine Cloud Brightening Project in the Bay Area, said Alameda provides the perfect cloud conditions over the bay.

The goal is to mimic the effects of pollution in a cleaner way by using salt water to brighten clouds, which scientists hope, will then reflect more sunlight back into space to help cool the Earth.

The program is still in the early phases.

Sarah Doherty, a senior research scientist with the University of Washington and the program director for the cloud brightening project, said right now they need to figure out if the end goal is even possible and how much impact it could have.

Elena Givental, California State University East Bay professor of environmental studies, is excited about the research. However, she cautions that as the Earth continues to heat up, the various ideas for cooling the world are not without controversy.

“Geoengineering all together is a pretty controversial issue,” Givental said. “While there are certain benefits to trying to cool the environment, we are not quite sure what kind of negative effects or feedback can keep going on.”

Meanwhile, Doherty believes reducing emissions is the most important tool, but said that alone will not be enough.

“We are kind of locked in at this point committed to significant climate disruption,” Doherty said. “So the question is, are there other things we can do to help reduce suffering and impacts? And this might be one of them.”

The group of researchers plan to be in the Bay Area throughout the summer and hope to make the visit an educational experience for those who visit the museum.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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