On the Deployment of Ocean Spraying Vessels to Brighten Marine Clouds to Cool the Planet

On the Deployment of Ocean Spraying Vessels to Brighten Marine Clouds to Cool the Planet // June 23, 2021

I was recently in a great video discussion with Peter Wadhams and Stephen Salter, hosted by Metta Spencer, to hash out the cloud brightening technique as conceptualized by Emeritus Professor Stephen Salter in the Engineering and Design Department at the University of Edinburgh over the last couple of decades.

Marine Cloud Brightening (MCB) has the potential to cool the planet in a highly controllable fashion. Essentially, sea water is pumped to high pressure through nozzles where it generates water jets that then break apart (via Rayleigh instability) to form tiny water droplets. The nozzle size, number of nozzles, water pressure, etc… are engineered to produce water droplets of 800 nm size (0.8 micron) so that when the water evaporates we are left with 200 nm salt crystals. These salt crystals are then transported within the turbulent boundary layer above the surface of the ocean up to heights about 1 km to 1.5 km where they act as cloud condensation nuclei, ensuring that the clouds that do form are of extremely high albedo (reflectivity) and thus can reflect enough incoming sunlight to cool the surface of the Earth.

The spray nozzles are transported around the oceans of the planet by hydrofoil ships powered by the wind using so-called Flettner Rotors. The ships are sailed to specific areas of the ocean at specific times of the year to brighten the clouds in specific regions to get the desired regional cooling, for example to reduce Atlantic Basin hurricane strength, protect coral reefs, cool the Arctic enough to restore Arctic Sea Ice, and!or modify monsoons or redistribute rainfall to reduce droughts or torrential rainfalls.

This technology has enormous potential to cool the planet enough to buy us time to slash fossil fuel emissions and deploy carbon removal technologies.

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About paulbeckwith

Well known climate science educator; Part-time Geography professor (climatology, oceanography, environmental issues), University of Ottawa. Physicist. Engineer. Master's Degree in Science in Laser Optics, Bachelors of Engineering, in Engineering Physics. Won Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario gold medal. Also interested in investment and start-ups in climate solutions, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Avid chess player, and likes restoring old homes. Married with children.
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