Thursday, August 21, 2008

Brighter World

Brighter World premieres right after Raining Forests at 10pm August 29th on the Discovery Channel.

Brighter World plays on the fact that bright white water vapor clouds reflect sunlight back into space better than oceans or land, thus resulting the effect of global warming. This phenomenon is called global dimming and many scientists and professors have noticed this effect before.

In this episode, the Project Earth team tries to expand on the idea of creating man-made clouds in order to prevent the Earth absorbing excess sunlight causing global temperatures to rise. The team hopes that the clouds that are produced will help reduce the temperatures on Earth since less sunlight is being absorbed by the ground.

Updates from the show: The idea for this Project Earth episode is to geoengineer regular clouds. The plan is to use sea water to redistribute the molecules of water in clouds to redirect more sunlight back into space.

Regular clouds only reflect about 50% of sunlight back into space. The team expects that if very small salt particles are used inside the water droplets of clouds, this will reflect another 10% of sunlight back into space. Ten percent may seem like a very small amount however the amount of particles needed will need to be 4 times as many in a square inch.

The team would like to create Marine stratoculumus clouds. These clouds form between 200 and 400 feet above water. These clouds are ideal since marine stratoculumus clouds do not produce rain clouds since they are so low to the ground.

The Project Earth team ran into a problem though. They could not generate small enough particles using their proposed water jet theroy. The water particles averaged 14 microns across. Their goal was to create particles about 1 micron.

The team then moved onto another idea. They tested salt flares to see how small the particles were. They found out that the particles were less than 1 micron across making them ideal to test a geoengineered cloud.

The project used 300 flares set off simultaneously off the back of a boat. After some time, the particles were carried up in thermals into the condensing layer. This created a cloud exactly where they were hoping.

The cloud was about 100 feet wide by about four miles long. The cloud's volume was about six million square meters. They estimated that this cloud could potentially off set the carbon produced by about four or five power generating stations.

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