Putting An Umbrella Over Coral Reefs

Putting An Umbrella Over Coral Reefs

The world’s coral reefs are under threat. Some scientists say doses of cloud brightening could provide a solution to the problem.

Here’s a new twist to the geoengineer’s dilemma: just change the climate locally – over the bit you want to protect – and leave the rest of the planet alone.

Dr. Alan Gadian, from Leeds University in the UK, wants to make the marine clouds brighter and in effect raise a parasol over the ocean’s most sensitive structures, the coral reefs.

Carbon dioxide dissolves in water to make a very weak carbonic acid and there’s a continuing argument about the eventual fate of the world’s coral reefs as the planet warms and the oceans become more acidic.

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere look set to double. Can the corals adapt to changes in the pH of sea water as yet more carbonic acid pours from the skies and drains from the rivers?

And carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. Can the coral reefs – with a well-documented tendency to “bleach” with rises in sea surface temperatures – survive a global average warming of anything from 2° to 6°C?

Since living coral reefs provide natural protection for tropical coasts, a tourist attraction, a fishery resource and above all the richest habitat in the entire oceans, their survival is vital.

Cloud Brightening

Gadian and colleagues report in Atmospheric Research Letters that spraying fine seawater droplets on the clouds over the reefs to make them brighter could provide a level of protection for the reefs.

“Our research focuses on how Marine Cloud Brightening (MCB) could quickly lower sea temperatures in targeted areas” says Gadian.

Gleaming cloud tops will reflect more sunlight back into space, and lower the temperatures over the ocean below. Most geoengineering schemes are global in ambition, but to damp down warming over the whole planet would in effect be a deliberate form of manmade climate change, with unintended consequences that might create huge geopolitical problems.

The marine cloud brightening strategy has this advantage: it puts local assets under local control, without extending the impact over a whole ocean, or a whole continent.

Gadian has already proposed that Atlantic hurricanes could be damped down by the same technique. This time, he and his colleagues looked at simulations of warming and the brightening of marine stratocumulus clouds over the Caribbean, French Polynesia and the Great Barrier Reef, over a 20 year period.

Less Bleaching

Without any attempt to spray the clouds, the impact of the projected bleaching was severe. Once the saltwater sprays were factored in, the sea surface temperatures dropped, and there was less risk of bleaching, the calculations suggested.

The research was entirely hypothetical, and does not address the additional global hazard that arrives with changes in sea water chemistry. The authors argue that there is no alternative to a global reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, but marine cloud brightening could at least buy time and ensure survival for corals in sensitive areas.

The researchers propose that the technique could be tested on a small scale, over blocks of 100 square metres: too small to have any long term effects, and too limited to provoke much political objection. But the process would not be cheap.

“We estimate that MCB would have an annual cost of $400 million, however, political, social and ethical costs make a true figure difficult to estimate,” Gadian says.

“Whatever the final figure, it will be less expensive than the damage the destruction of coral could wreak on neighbouring countries, the local food chain and global biodiversity.” – Climate News Network

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

LATEST VIDEOS

The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
by Super User
The climate crisis is forcing thousands around the world to flee as their homes become increasingly uninhabitable.
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
by Alan N Williams, et al
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that without a substantial decrease…
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
by Toby Tyrrell
It took evolution 3 or 4 billion years to produce Homo sapiens. If the climate had completely failed just once in that…
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
by Brice Rea
The end of the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago, was characterised by a final cold phase called the Younger Dryas.…
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
by Frank Wesselingh and Matteo Lattuada
Imagine you are on the coast, looking out to sea. In front of you lies 100 metres of barren sand that looks like a…
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
by Richard Ernst
We can learn a lot about climate change from Venus, our sister planet. Venus currently has a surface temperature of…
Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
The Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
by John Cook
This video is a crash course in climate misinformation, summarizing the key arguments used to cast doubt on the reality…
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
by Julie Brigham-Grette and Steve Petsch
Every year, sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean shrinks to a low point in mid-September. This year it measures just 1.44…

LATEST ARTICLES

3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
by Bart Johnson, Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Oregon
A wildfire burning in hot, dry mountain forest swept through the Gold Rush town of Greenville, California, on Aug. 4,…
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
by Alvin Lin
At the Leader’s Climate Summit in April, Xi Jinping pledged that China will “strictly control coal-fired power…
A plane drops red fire retardant on to a forest fire as firefighters parked along a road look up into the orange sky
Model predicts 10-year burst of wildfire, then gradual decline
by Hannah Hickey-U. Washington
A look at the long-term future of wildfires predicts an initial roughly decade-long burst of wildfire activity,…
Blue water surrounded by dead white grass
Map tracks 30 years of extreme snowmelt across US
by Mikayla Mace-Arizona
A new map of extreme snowmelt events over the last 30 years clarifies the processes that drive rapid melting.
White sea ice in blue water with the sun setting reflected in the water
Earth’s frozen areas are shrinking 33K square miles a year
by Texas A&M University
The Earth’s cryosphere is shrinking by 33,000 square miles (87,000 square kilometers) per year.
A row of male and female speakers at microphones
234 scientists read 14,000+ research papers to write the upcoming IPCC climate report
by Stephanie Spera, Assistant Professor of Geography and the Environment, University of Richmond
This week, hundreds of scientists from around the world are finalizing a report that assesses the state of the global…
A brown weasel with a white belly leans on a rock and looks over its shoulder
Once common weasels are doing a vanishing act
by Laura Oleniacz - NC State
Three species of weasels, once common in North America, are likely in decline, including a species that’s considered…
Flood risk will rise as climate heat intensifies
by Tim Radford
A warmer world will be a wetter one. Ever more people will face a higher flood risk as rivers rise and city streets…

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.