Global climate change

Potential climate-engineering solutions to global warming

By Brett Anderson, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
8/04/2017, 11:40:40 AM

Climate engineering is a potential means to reduce climate warming caused by the rise of greenhouse gases.

I just read two articles in the July 21 issue of Science, which covers two climate engineering methods that may work in reducing climate warming.

The first article discusses the idea of injecting sulfur into the stratosphere, which would cause an artificial reduction of sunlight reaching the Earth's surface by increasing the reflectivity of the Earth's atmosphere, according to the article in Science.

This process is similar to the massive release of sulfur into the stratosphere by large volcanic eruptions. Significant, short-term global cooling has been recorded shortly following some of these eruptions.

Stratospheric aerosol modification (SAM) may be used as a last-resort option to reduce the severity of global warming. However, SAM technologies are presently not developed.

Cloud seeding

Another climate engineering method that was discussed in the Science issue is cirrus cloud seeding.

High, wispy and thin cirrus clouds typically do not reflect a lot of solar radiation back into space. Cirrus clouds emit less long wave radiation back into space than a clear sky does, which is similar to what greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide do.

Image courtesy of Science and ETH Zurich, Institute of Atmospheric and Climate Science.

Higher and colder cirrus clouds will have a larger warming effect on climate. The climate engineering process of cirrus cloud thinning would cause more long wave radiation to escape by reducing the coverage and optical thickness of the clouds.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or


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Global climate change