Scientists have carried out a "cloud brightening" experiment in an early-stage trial on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, which could become a futuristic way to protect the world's largest reef against global warming, international media reported. The warmer seas have damaged the health of the corals and the climate crisis threatens its existence.
In the rare experiment, scientists reportedly dispersed the tiny salt crystals obtained from the oceans into the atmosphere through the boat-mounted cannons. The crystals then blended with the low-lying clouds that reflected the sunlight away from the oceans, thus leading to a drastic reduction of temperature in the seawater below.
The world heritage site had been bleached in the recent past due to warmer seas, causing devastation to the 2,300 km wide stretch, media reports confirmed. Therefore, the researchers aimed to narrow the bleaching stress by at least 70%.
The lead scientist on the project, Daniel Harrison from Southern Cross University, was quoted as saying that the trials were “really, really encouraging”. He further added that most of the research was theoretical, and hence, it was the first of its kind to implement the technique and convert crystals from seawater to cloud condensation nuclei to enhance the health of the coral reef.
As per reports, Harrison stressed that despite the success of the experiment, four years of further research were needed to prove the effectiveness of the experiment.
According to reports, the experiment was conducted by the Southern Cross University and Sydney Institute of Marine Science late last month after it was discovered that the coral reefs were getting damaged on a large scale due to extensive bleaching caused by global warming, a comprehensive scientific survey confirmed.
Unhealthy corals expel the essential algae, which drains them of their vibrant colours. Meanwhile, the temperature of the seawater needs to be addressed, the researchers explained. Harrison further added that if the greenhouse gas emissions weren’t brought under control, the cloud-brightening technology can rescue the reefs for a couple of decades more but they become go extinct eventually, according to reports.