Academics and researchers: if you are in meteorology, earth sciences, human sciences or ecology, and would like to contribute to or follow this work, visit LARI, the Land-Atmosphere Resilience Initiative.
We have found that with so much public fear around the issue of global warming, the phrase "global cooling" is a helpful balancing phrase, which supports people to think about what they and others can actively and realistically do.
For a solution to global warming, most people will think about reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Some will think about large-scale, radical geoengineering. The Global Cooling Project considers a third set of options, which have advantages in terms of cost, simplicity, and how rapidly they can make an impact.
Options for global cooling go beyond stimulating cloud formation. We also support other strategies which can have an impact before 2050: rapid phase down of HFCs and HCFCs, replacing conifer plantations with broadleaf, and pale roads / cool cities initiatives.
We are also interested in the ongoing research on sea stratus clouds - see the article on all-disciplines collaboration by Geoff Lawton and Ray Taylor at Klima 2009.
We promote simple land-management changes which can reduce global warming, stabilise rainfall, reduce flooding and help prevent famine over the next 10-50 years.
Low level clouds reflect the heat of the sun. Thunderstorm clouds also transport heat from the earth by convection and then radiate it out into space. These clouds can be encouraged to form naturally by increasing soil moisture and vegetation.
Soil moisture can be increased by rainwater harvesting (catching rainwater and helping it percolate into the soil). Other helpful soil moisture interventions include permaculture, conservation agriculture, agroforestry, farmer-managed natural reforestation, soil and water conservation. When done on a large scale, this will increase soil moisture, plant growth, cloud cover and rainfall.
This can be effective in hot, semi-arid countries which have a rainy season, especially in parts of the tropics where there has been deforestation. The most promising region is West Africa. Other locations in the northern hemisphere are Florida, India, Ethiopia.
In the animation below, the red, orange, yellow and green areas show where this can be most effective, and at which times of year.
Image shows where an increase in soil moisture is coupled to a subsequent increase in rainfall, as measured by earth observation satellites. Areas where there is no data on soil moisture are shown as black. Unpublished images and data courtesy of Dr Tim Jupp, Exeter University.
This project potentially brings many benefits, both to the global climate, and also to the local communities where schemes are implemented.
Read more about the local, regional and global benefits
The project is not concerned with CO2 and the greenhouse effect, and it does not allow us to stop our efforts to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. However, it does buy us more time - potentially delaying the effects of increased global warming by 10-20 years.
The project is supported by mainstream scientists from around the world, such as Professor Peter Cox, Met Office Chair in Climate System Dynamics at Exeter University (see his letter of support). A science dossier (pdf, 7MB) with 112 references to peer-reviewed scientific journals is avaliable for download.
We have made links with a number of scientists around the world who support the project and want to contribute. We are keen to attract new supporters and collaborators, especially in fields such as: hydrology, meteorology, and other earth-sciences. We have made links with NGOs, and a social enterprise, Kinomé, is working with communities in Senegal on full scale implementation, as part of their Trees & Life project.
The project needs your support.