As Earth continues to move toward a warmer climate, scientists are working to develop strategies to artificially cool the planet in the case that the situation becomes truly dire.
But, many of these geoengineering tactics come with their own set of consequences, including changes in precipitation that could trigger droughts in some parts of the world.
In a new assessment of three commonly discussed geoengineering techniques, researchers have found that a method known as ‘cloud thinning’ could be our best bet.
By reducing the coverage of wispy, high-altitude cirrus clouds, researchers at Zhejiang University in China say it could be possible to hit the brakes on global warming.
This could be done by spraying powder over the clouds, which would prompt ice crystals to form around the individual grains and ultimately drop down due to their weight, according to New Scientist.
In the study, the researchers say ‘the intentional reduction of the coverage and optical thickness of high-level cirrus cloud could potentially reduce global warming by modifying the longwave radiative effect of cirrus clouds.’
These clouds sit high in the sky, and could help to slash rising temperatures without having dramatic effects on precipitation.
The team also examined the idea of injecting aerosols into the stratosphere to ‘deflect more sunlight back to space,’ and seeding marine stratocumulus clouds in a strategy known as ‘cloud brightening,’ causing them to reflect more sunlight.
The findings are published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres.'
Read more: Could thinning out high-altitude clouds combat climate change? Scientists reveal radical plan to cool the atmosphere
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