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Can brightening clouds buy us time to fight climate change?

A ship on the sea is seen in the center of the photo. Above it, rays of sunlight pierce through gaps in thick clouds.
Dark clouds gather over the Baltic Sea on November 8, 2023. | Photo by Stefan Sauer/picture alliance via Getty Images

Brightening Earth’s clouds so that they reflect more sunlight just might cool the planet — that is if we can figure out how to do it without causing any unintended harm. To test the theory out, a group of over 30 leading scientists have written up a research road map that was published in the journal Science Advances yesterday.

The paper focuses on how to approach attempts to artificially shade Earth’s surface with marine clouds by spraying saltwater into the air from ships, a strategy called marine cloud brightening (MCB). They’ll need to be really careful with any future experiments, which would fall into the controversial category of solar geoengineering. The idea is to counteract some of the effects of climate change by finding ways…

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