Artificially enhanced clouds may ease global warming, scientists say

With gloomy scientific report after gloomy scientific report warning about our globally warmed future, finally one group of scientists is offering a ray of sunshine — in the unlikely form of clouds. Low-altitude, lumpy gray clouds, called stratocumulus, have the desirable quality of being especially reflective at their tops, which the scientists hope to exploit. Since, as atmospheric scientist John Latham says, “clouds become more reflective if you increase the number of droplets in them,” the eggheads propose spraying seawater high into the air near stratocumulus clouds, causing salt particles to be absorbed, extra droplets to form, and the clouds to become both more reflective and longer-lasting. Thus would more sunlight be bounced back into space before it can warm the planet. Latham says the group found that in climate models, “[m]odifying an area covering around 3 percent of the Earth’s surface produced a cooling that more or less balances the warming from doubled carbon dioxide levels.” However, he cautioned, it’s no long-term solution. “Our endeavors are directed toward buying time.”