By most accounts, the Great Barrier Reef is dying. Warming oceans have bleached over two-thirds of the natural wonder and scientist fear it has reached a critical tipping point from which it cannot come back.
In a last-ditch effort to save the largest reef in the world, scientists have come up with a plan that involves cloud hacking. This isn’t the cloud hacking that resulted in the theft of private photos of Jennifer Lawrence, but hacking actual clouds. Scientists hope that if they can make the clouds over the reef brighter and more reflective, it will allow the water surrounding the reef to cool, reviving the delicate coral community.
A team of Australian researchers at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science is working on the seemingly farfetched plan and so far believe it just might be possible. The concept, according to The Times, is to spray tiny salt particles, harvested from sea water, at low-lying clouds causing them to increase their density, reflecting the sun’s heat back into space. It’s a wild idea, but scientists are willing to try it, if it might cool the water temperature even a little. “We wouldn’t want to have to do these geo-engineering ideas and deliberately make clouds over the reef if we didn’t have to,” researcher Daniel Harrison told Australian news outlet ABC. It’s a desperate move, but these are desperate times for the warming planet.