Ambitious experiment aims to protect the Great Barrier Reef from bleaching

The Great Barrier Reef is facing its first mass bleaching event in five years as a result of climate change and the record ocean temperatures.

In a bid to mitigate the ecosystem’s loss and protect it from warming, scientists from the University of Sydney have recently experimented with a futuristic process called cloud brightening. The experiment involved a boat-mounted fan similar to a snow cannon to shoot salt crystals into the air to make clouds reflect more sunlight and thus cool the waters around the reef.

To have a significant impact on the reef, a full-scale experiment would need to be 10 times larger, involving the use of several big barge-mounted turbines, according to the project’s lead scientist. But if things go as they hope, the process could reduce bleaching by as much as 70 percent.

While the cloud-brightening technique would mainly act as a mitigating solution, rather than solving the underlying challenge of climate change, it represents an ambitious effort from scientists to buy us some more time.

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