Cloud seeding has been used in many countries to enhance precipitation, dissipate fog, and modify hurricanes. It can be done by humans and can also occur naturally. But this method is controversial for many reasons.
Clouds protect the planet by reflecting sunlight out into space to cool the planet. However, it melts into thin air as the temperature of Earth rises. Its loss trigger greater climate changes and new research suggests that it could also undermine the potential of future geoengineering solutions.
Cloud seeding's positive impact on the environment is not yet proven or even feasible in the real world. Some scientists are worried that it might bring unprecedented dangers to the planet. Some also argued that meddling with the climate did not solve the acidification on the ocean or adverse ecosystem effects.
Increasing carbon emissions trigger greater global warming with or without cloud seeding
With the rising temperatures of the planet, some scientists said that the clouds in the sky might lessen in the coming years even if solar geoengineering works with no side effects it might not be enough, Science Alert reported.
In other words, the increase in carbon emissions will trigger much greater global warming with or without cloud seeding, the authors wrote. That is when carbon emissions continue to accumulate in the atmosphere four times the concentration that it is today that approximately will take about 100 years, which would likely happen even with decades of solar geoengineering.
The stratocumulus that covers most of the subtropical ocean is believed to be responsible for reflecting about five degrees Celsius of global warming into space.
Climate models suggest that without the protective shield of the clouds all heat from the sun can sink freely into the lower atmosphere and be absorbed by the planet's oceans, which raises the temperatures around the globe.
That means solar geoengineering can only work at a point but might be difficult to operate in the long run. Researchers said that it is not a replacement for cutting carbon emissions.
"Solar geoengineering is not a fail-safe option to prevent global warming," the authors said, "because it does not mitigate risks to the climate system that arise from direct effects of greenhouse gases on cloud cover."
Thinning of clouds and its impact on its light-reflecting abilities
The climate model they used illustrates what will happen when carbon emissions increased in concentration at the same time as cooling. It assumes that solar geoengineering could work and that carbon emissions can go unchecked.
But there is growing research that has linked the increasing carbon emissions to the thinning of clouds that are often overlooked in climate models. It is not yet clear when it began or how that impacts their light-reflecting abilities.
The warming of the planet leads to evaporation and increased atmospheric moisture that weakens the clouds that cool the planet. It is like how the ground takes longer to cool at night in humid weather compared to dry conditions.
For now, the risks and benefits of solar geoengineering remain uncertain, and further research is needed to say for sure that it is worth pursuing at all. But what people can do is to reduce carbon emissions as it is the best option.
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