NOV 10, 2017 06:10 AM PST

Video: Can Brightening Ocean Clouds Reduce Dangerous Hurricanes?

WRITTEN BY: Julia Travers

Marine cloud brightening (MCB) is the process of changing the makeup of clouds to help them reflect more sunlight away from the earth, which could help to cool the planet and oceans. Warm ocean water evaporates more quickly, feeding water into major storms and hurricanes. So theoretically, if the oceans were cooler, storms could decrease.

MCB would hypothetically be carried out through introducing new salt water into the atmosphere. Ships would spray a jet of sea water up into the air. According to Phys.org, increasing the salt in the atmosphere increases the amount of water droplets forming in the sky, making denser clouds.

As Popular Science’s video explains, the Twomey Effect states that clouds with a greater number of smaller particles reflect more light, or have a higher “albedo.”

Stephen Salter, an engineering design professor at the University of Edinburgh, is currently studying the prospect of MCB with wind powered, unmanned vessels and he projects it could cost millions or billions. He doesn’t want to get rid of tropical storms altogether but is aiming for about a 3 percent temperature drop to reduce their intensity and frequency. Other concerns with MCB include incorporating proper filtration to avoid circulating ocean pollution into the atmosphere and the risk of interfering with other global weather patterns.

tropical storm, credit: public domain

In 2014, teams at the universities of Manchester, Washington and Edinburgh explored MCB and studied the energy-efficiency of various methods. Their paper promoted a method called a “Rayleigh Jet,” which sprays up a fine mist and is named for Lord Rayleigh, who came up with the theoretical design.

"I am not recommending that we use any of these techniques now, but it is important to know how best to use them should they become necessary. Should no progress be made to reduce CO2 levels, then geoengineering techniques, similar to this, might become necessary to avoid dangerous rises in global temperatures,” says Dr. Paul Connolly of The University of Manchester.

 

About the Author
  • Julia Travers is a writer, artist and teacher. She frequently covers science, tech and conservation.
You May Also Like
OCT 18, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 18, 2019
SpaceX Resupplies the International Space Station
SpaceX launched another resupply mission for the International Space Station on Thursday, subtly named CRS-18, coinciding with the same day that the commer...
OCT 18, 2019
Technology
OCT 18, 2019
Sonar WiFi?
Researchers have attempted to develop a technique that could revolutionize navigation technologies for drones, robots, and even pedestrians trying to find ...
OCT 18, 2019
Cardiology
OCT 18, 2019
Clear, Flexible Vital Sign Wearable Monitors
Wearable health monitors are gaining in popularity, both for fitness tracking and for gathering more targeted health data relating to heart disease and oth...
OCT 18, 2019
Technology
OCT 18, 2019
Blood Incubation Using Laser Technology
The world’s first ever blood incubator was developed using laser technology and could someday prevent fatal blood transfusions in critically ill pati...
OCT 18, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
OCT 18, 2019
Artificial "Bug Eyes" Made of Nanoparticles and Liquid Marbles
The term compound eye refers to the unique visual organs that can be found in many insects (hence the nickname "bug eyes"), as well as certain sp...
OCT 18, 2019
Technology
OCT 18, 2019
Technology That Prevents Wildfires
A study by Stanford University researchers explains the development of a gel-like fluid that can serve as preventive method to reduce the incidence of wild...
Loading Comments...