AirTalk for August 22, 2012

Could cloud brightening curb global warming?

A picture taken on July 21, 2012 in Bonn

JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Is cloud brightening the solution we've been looking for?

With drought increasing and temperatures rising, the realities of global warming are becoming starker by the year. Scientists are scrambling to find ways to put a chill on the increasing heat. And now, one idea that wasn’t taken seriously when it was first proposed in 1990 is getting some traction.

Cloud brightening is the concept of seeding clouds over the ocean so their droplet size and their surface area are increased. The increased cloud cover would reflect the sun’s rays away from the earth like a big mirror. Some climate models show this could offset the temperature increases created by the burning fossil fuels.

Now, a group of scientists has proposed that this idea is credible enough to start launching experiments.

Could cloud brightening save us from melting polar ice caps? Is it time that scientists start taking more drastic measures to combat warming? What are the possible unintended consequences of playing with nature on this level?

Guest:

Robert Wood, Associate Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at University of Washington


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