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Weather Talk: Geoengineering could conceivably help Earth

Geoengineering is the manipulation of natural Earth systems in order to produce benefits. To a lot of sensible people, this sounds like wacky, science-fiction nonsense. To a number of wacky people, it is a secret government conspiracy already happening.

Geoengineering is real, but instead of a government conspiracy, it is the unintentional effects of an overpopulated Earth. Deforestation adds greatly to Earth's increasing albedo, and contributes to climate change.

What if we attempted to geoengineer our planet in ways that actually cooled the climate? A recent article in Science magazine showed that large-scale wind and solar farms in the Sahara Desert would increase rainfall in the region by reducing albedo and wind speeds. The increased rain would create vegetation which would provide a positive feedback loop, further increasing the rain. The additional vegetation would help offset deforestation effects on Earth's climate. It might sound like the stuff of science fiction, but it is not implausible.

John Wheeler

John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms.  John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold.  When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading.  John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.

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