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17 clever ways scientists are trying to protect coral

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Great Barrier Reef
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Manipulating clouds to protect corals from bleaching

Scientists are currently exploring the possibility of making the clouds above the Great Barrier Reef larger and brighter in the hope that this will save it from further coral bleaching.

Researchers at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science and the University of Sydney's School of Geosciences believe that by manipulating low lying clouds over the reef to be more reflective, it will have a chance to cool the affected waters a few degrees, a critical option during any potential future El Niño climate warming occurrences.

Though this strand of research is still in early days, a number of groups are studying cloud brightening as a potential option for altering the climate as a whole. Originally presented by British scientist John Latham almost 30 years ago, the idea is that fleets of boats could spray minuscule particles of salt that have been generated from sea water into the lower lying clouds, inducing them to expand and become denser. These thicker white clouds should then be able to reflect more of the incoming heat back out into space and away from the Earth's surface. Lathem led a study in 2012 at the University of Manchester, which found that this approach could offset the resulting heat from a double the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Experts the world over are working hard to find a solution to the grim situation in the Great Barrier Reef, which is still continuing to die off since last year's extreme bout of coral bleaching. It is thought that up to half of the reef may have died, with the number of live corals falling 30% since last year.

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