Seagoing hardware for the cloud albedo method of reversing global warming


Following the review by Latham et al. (Chapter 10) of a strategy to reduce insolation by exploiting the Twomey effect, the present chapter describes in outline the rationale and underlying engineering hardware that may bring the strategy from concept to operation. Wind-driven spray vessels will sail back and forth perpendicular to the local prevailing wind and release micron-sized drops of seawater into the turbulent boundary layer beneath marine stratocumulus clouds. The combination of wind and vessel movements will treat a large area of sky. When residues left after drop evaporation reach cloud level they will provide many new cloud condensation nuclei giving more but smaller drops and so will increase the cloud albedo to reflect solar energy back out to space. If the possible power increase of 3.7 W m-2 from double pre-industrial CO2 is divided by the 24-hour solar input of 340 W m-2, a global albedo increase of only 1.1 per cent will produce a sufficient offset. The method is not intended to make new clouds. It will just make existing clouds whiter. This chapter describes the design of 300-tonne ships powered by Flettner rotors rather than conventional sails. The vessels will drag turbines resembling oversized propellers through the water to provide the means for generating electrical energy. Some will be used for rotor spin, but most will be used to create spray by pumping 30 kg s-1 of carefully filtered water through banks of filters and then to micro-nozzles with piezoelectric excitation to vary drop diameter. The rotors offer a convenient housing for spray nozzles with fan assistance to help initial dispersion. The ratio of solar energy reflected by a drop at the top of a cloud to the energy needed to make the surface area of the nucleus

Geo-Engineering Climate Change: Environmental Necessity or Pandora's Box?, eds. Brian Launder and

Michael Thompson. Published by Cambridge University Press. © Cambridge University Press 2010.

on which it has grown is many orders of magnitude and so the spray quantities needed to achieve sufficient global cooling are technically feasible.

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