Zapping clouds with lasers could tweak planet’s temperature | Science News

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Zapping clouds with lasers could tweak planet’s temperature

Future technology might allow manipulation of ice crystals to alter climate

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2:00pm, May 20, 2016

CLOUD COVER  Shrinking the ice particles in cirrus clouds by blasting them with a laser could provide a method for tweaking the planet’s temperature. Scientists tested this technique in the lab, producing laser-induced explosions in ice particles.

Laser blasts might help scientists tweak Earth’s thermostat by shattering the ice crystals found in cirrus clouds.

Zapping tiny ice particles in the lab forms new, smaller bits of ice, researchers report May 20 in Science Advances. Since clouds with more numerous, smaller ice particles reflect more light, the technique could combat global warming by causing the clouds to reflect more sunlight back into space, the scientists say.

Scientists from the University of Geneva and from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany injected water drops into a chilled chamber that mimics the frigid conditions high in the atmosphere, where wispy cirrus clouds live. The water froze into spherical ice particles, which the scientists walloped with short, intense bursts of laser light.

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