Blue sky idea to cloud Reef
An oceanographer has proposed using geoengineering to increase cloud cover on the Great Barrier Reef.
The technology known as “cloud brightening” could be used to deflect more of the sun’s rays back into space to counteract rising sea temperatures and coral bleaching.
Experts from around the world are gathering at a symposium in Cairns this week to discuss Reef interventions.
Dr Daniel Harrison will outline a system in which sea water is pumped through a filter and sprayed through small nozzles to produce tiny water droplets.
Fans are then used to propel the droplets into the atmosphere to evaporate, leaving behind a tiny particle of salt that triggers the condensation of water droplets, brightening existing clouds.
The expert says this would both cloud the reef and allow the clouds to deflect solar radiation, cooling surface water temperatures.
“That one droplet creates an aerosol particle that then grows 15 million times in size into a cloud droplet,” said Dr Harrison, a University of Sydney researcher.
The idea is still in a pre-trial stage as part of the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program, led by the Australian Institute of Marine Science.
The program’s director David Mead says correcting the causes of climate change is critical, but with inaction on that front, scientists are asking what else they can do.
“We are trying as broadly as possible to assess what some of the other options might be. [We’re taking] a no-stone-unturned approach,” he told Fairfax.
Other ideas include dispersing a microscopic film over the water’s surface to block the coral from sunlight.
Research is also looking at collecting resilient corals for repopulating reefs.
Convenor of the Great Barrier Reef Restoration Symposium, Damien Burrows, said any of these ideas would rely on deep community consultation.