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`New technique of cloud brightening can save coral reefs from bleaching`

Last Updated: Thursday, July 11, 2013 - 22:14

Washington: A latest research has proposed that a targeted version of the geo-engineering technique seeding of marine clouds to cool sea surface temperatures could protect threatened coral reefs from being bleached by warming oceans.

The Research published in Atmospheric Science Letters said it could give coral a fifty year `breathing space` to recover from acidification and warming.

Dr Alan Gadian, from Leeds University, said that their research focuses on how Marine Cloud Brightening (MCB) could quickly lower sea temperatures in targeted areas.

Gadian said that bleaching of coral reefs is most likely to occur when a 1 degree Celsius temperature rises over a prolonged period.

Several unmanned vehicles are being used to spray tiny seawater droplets into the cloud, thereby increasing their reflectivity and duration, in order to brighten the clouds. This way more sunlight is bounced back into space resulting in a cooling sea surface temperature.

Mild and severe coral bleaching events were projected over a 20-year period for the Caribbean, French Polynesia, and the Great Barrier Reef. Without MCB the amount of coral bleaching was seen to be severe. However, simultaneous deployment of MCB eliminated the risk of extra bleaching.

Public and political skepticism of geo-engineering projects remains a hurdle to their development. However, the authors believe small-scale use of MCB for conservation would be unlikely to generate public opposition.

The authors propose field-testing of MCB on a scale of 100 square metres, which could demonstrate its use, without producing significant climate effects. Aside from cost, the main disadvantage of this technique is that it would not tackle ocean acidification, a direct result of carbon dioxide emissions.


First Published: Thursday, July 11, 2013 - 22:13

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