NASA could ‘dehydrate stratosphere’ to cool down Earth with special planes


Dehydrating the stratosphere could help cool the overheating planet, NASA boffins say.

Water vapour in that layer of the Earth’s atmosphere forms a sponge-like barrier that stops heat from the globe escaping out into space. Eggheads are exploring whether they could dry this out so the heat could escape and cool down global warming temperatures.

They would do this by sending special planes 58,000 feet above the surface and injecting ice particles high up in the air. This means water vapour in the upper atmosphere would get a bit drier, according to scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA.

The vapour – water in its gas form – is a natural greenhouse gas that traps heat, just like carbon dioxide from burning coal, oil and gas.

By freezing the water, it would then fall back to Earth. This would remove the excess water vapour before it turns into harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

Joshua Schwarz, of the NOAA, said: “This is about exploring what might be possible in the future and identifying research directions.” He added: “If we put in some particles that would make it easy for ice to form, then ice will form.

“We’re learning about possibilities and we didn’t uncover anything that seems impossible.”

High-tech planes could inject ice particles about 11 miles high, just below the stratosphere, where the air slowly rises. The ice and cold air would then rise to where it’s coldest and get the water vapour to turn to ice and fall, dehydrating the 

By injecting two tonnes a week, it could potentially take out enough water vapour to reduce about 5% of the overall warming created by carbon from the burning of fossil fuel.


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