Yes, but what about all that extra UHI that water vapor will cause?

Not to mention the water pollution…from Springer Select:

To curb China’s haze and air pollution, use water

New geoengineering research suggests pollution-control measures inspired by watering a garden

10311 A new idea to cut back on air pollution: spray water into the atmosphere from sprinklers atop tall buildings and towers, similar to watering a garden. This suggestion comes from Shaocai Yu of Zhejiang University in China, and North Carolina State University in the US. In an article published in Springer’s journal Environmental Chemistry Letters, Yu suggests this course of action as a novel approach to help curb the severe air pollution and heavy haze that is experienced in many Chinese cities, as well as others around the world. Over the past 30 years the megacities of China have suffered from air pollution because of the nation’s decades-long burst of economic and industrial growth.

Moreover, air pollution of this nature is not easy to manage, because the pollution typically comes from a variety of sources such as coal-based energy, traffic and heating in the megacities themselves.But in a new article, Yu proposes spraying water into the atmosphere to simulate natural types of precipitation that are able to most effectively scavenge or collect and remove aerosol and gaseous pollutants. And while chemical agents can be added to the water sprayed for other purposes, Yu recommends forgoing the addition of these chemicals to keep the process as natural as possible to avoid side effects that might cause harm to the environment. Finally, because water that is used for these purposes could be collected and reused, adopting this kind of plan would not exacerbate existing water shortages.

Yu predicts that this geoengineering scheme could help to reduce the fine particle load in the atmosphere efficiently to a safer level of 35 micrograms per cubic meter. And it could be done in a short time, depending how the water is sprayed. This geoengineering technique needs to be implemented daily to avoid the accumulation of air pollution in the atmosphere and the occurrence of haze. According to Yu, this option is very natural, technologically feasible, efficient and low cost.

All the necessary technologies and materials required to make it work are already available, from high buildings, towers and aircraft, to weather modification technology and automatic sprinkler heads. “With careful and considered evaluation beforehand for each area in the cities, this geoengineering approach can be environmentally safe without significant side effects. It can also be deployed easily within communities and on a massive scale at low cost,”

Yu writes. “If you can spend half an hour watering your garden, you can also spend 30 minutes watering your ambient atmosphere to keep the air clean with this technique.”Research and experiments are currently underway to design a suitable water-delivery system to successfully implement this geoengineering option.

Reference:Yu, S. (2013). Water spray geoengineering to clean air pollution for mitigating haze in China’s cities, Environmental Chemistry Letters. DOI 10.1007/s10311-013-0444-0.


Note: as demonstrated by Dr. John Christy, increased irrigation leads to increased temperatures, particularly overnight temperatures, due to the increased local water vapor content. See this story:

Irrigation most likely to blame for Central California warming

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January 6, 2014 1:59 pm

You will see the effect of the min temps going up immediately…

January 6, 2014 2:04 pm

When I was in Tianjin and Beijing a year ago October the haze was significant. After a rain storm it cleared right up for 24-36 hours, and then formed again. I looked up the causes, and found another not mentioned in this story. West of Beijing there is a huge area of bare ground, not desert so-to-speak but denuded ground, no grass, no trees, nothing. There is a tremendous amount of Dust in the Chinese haze, as well as sulfuric and nitric acid particulate from burning brown coal both in powerplants and in homes. Diesel vehicles with no catalytic converter to burn the soot complete the picture.
It would take an awful lot of gigantic sprinklers to do this, and re-using the water would only be possible after extensive filtration, as the streets of these cities are no cleaner than any others.

Lance Wallace
January 6, 2014 2:07 pm

Graphs are not coming through for this 2007 link. I’m using Chrome.

Mike Ozanne
January 6, 2014 2:10 pm

Urban Chinese population decimated by mutant legionaires disease pandemic.
followed by
Urban Chinese population decimated by anaphylactic reactions to airborne biocides

Bryan A
January 6, 2014 2:19 pm

To make this feasible they will need to do the watering at the source of the pollutant, the industrial smoke stacks.
Every particulate producing source would require a type of collection pond surround where the “rain” could be captured, scrubbed, and recycled to capture more particulates.
If not, then the particulate pollution will eventually contaminate the ground water supplies with heavy metals.

January 6, 2014 2:20 pm

Article is paywalled, but questions arise.
China has painfully limited water resources. Spraying water from tall structures is an excellent way to evaporate it. While this eliminates the recovery issue, it raises the question of where this water will come from. Beijing is far from any ocean, so desalination is implausible. Maybe Russia can be cajoled into leasing some of their water resources?

Richard G
January 6, 2014 2:22 pm

Simulating the gutation and transpiration of a natural or primordial forest? They need to reforest the barren land to achieve beneficial climate restoration.

Bryan A
January 6, 2014 2:24 pm

Perhaps they have been making regular night time flights capturing Arctic Ice Bergs and transporting them to the 3 Gorges Dam. That would explain the Arctic Ice Loss 🙂

Steve from Rockwood
January 6, 2014 2:27 pm

Just eliminate the older autos, especially the ones with little to no pollution control. The pollution is in the big cities and not in the countryside.

January 6, 2014 2:31 pm
a jones
January 6, 2014 2:38 pm

Sorry OT but Tips and Notes jammed as usual. You appear to have lost your links/blogroll.
Kindest Regards

January 6, 2014 2:39 pm

Apparently, there are nutty professors in China, as well.

January 6, 2014 2:42 pm

After The Great Smog of ’52 Londoners how long it took to get rid of this combination. Do the Chinese want it?

Leon Brozyna
January 6, 2014 2:43 pm

Here’s a novel approach to solving the air pollution problem … don’t put it in the air in the first place.

January 6, 2014 2:49 pm

They need to build cloud chambers instead of smokestacks (presipitators) at the plant

Berényi Péter
January 6, 2014 3:02 pm

China has plenty of shale gas. What about purchasing the technology? I mean actually paying for it, instead of simply stealing, as they used to. It still makes a clean &. inexpensive fuel for residential heating, much better than brow coal.

January 6, 2014 3:12 pm

Who is gonna lend the west money if China spends it’s cash on a hair brained scheme like this?
Oh, I know – we trade: money for soothing skin creme!

Tim Williams
January 6, 2014 3:28 pm

Scrubbing the toxic gases and particles from exhaust stacks is decades old. Every semiconductor wafer fabrication facility the world over uses it to remove extremely hazardous compounds safely.

January 6, 2014 3:38 pm

As others have pointed out, it is cheaper to remove the pollution at the origin, before it is dispersed.
But wait, what about the commissions and the graft?

Steve from Rockwood
January 6, 2014 3:54 pm

I don’t think it’s the coal-fired generating stations. The ones we saw (maybe 4-5) were located in the country and didn’t seem to be emitting a huge stench as we drove by. Stinky diesels in the cities.

James Strom
January 6, 2014 4:31 pm

Assuming that you are going to do this, there is probably an optimal way.
“And while chemical agents can be added to the water sprayed for other purposes, Yu recommends forgoing the addition of these chemicals to keep the process as natural as possible to avoid side effects that might cause harm to the environment.”
I’m sure some pretty expensive chemical engineering went into that recommendation.

Ray Boorman
January 6, 2014 4:47 pm

Many Chinese heat their homes & cook using lumps of locally mined coal. So do many power stations. Most of the coal in China is low quality, with a high Sulphur content, which results in much of the smog in cities.

January 6, 2014 5:28 pm

Note that the construction of modern coal fire power stations is a great step forward in reducing air pollution in China.
In my travels over the past 15 years I have noted that in some areas every business, every hotel, every factory, every intensive animal farm, has its own coal fired boiler, of dubious efficiency, invariably fueled by low quality coal which is often stored outside in the weather. For example, a pharmaceutical company we dealt with there had incorporated coal testing procedures into its laboratory to ensure the coal they purchased was of sufficient quality.

January 6, 2014 5:32 pm

I rather like the idea.
Let’s get back to that “Wicked Problem” that isn’t.
Spraying water from the tops of tall buildings is one of those, non-exclusive, flexible, low risk, low cost solutions to a local problem. Is it optimal? Probably not over the long term, but as a short term remediation is it so bad?
Will it work? Sure, it will reduce particulates in the air. The question is by how much. Try it and find out! As for putting these at the primary sources, sure — if they stay in one place. So doing it from the tops of buildings is the next best solution for auto and truck pollution until you clean them up.
What will be the harm / side-effects?
– Depending upon the amount of water/min used, the height of the buildings, microclimates could develope in the cities. Downdrafts, up drafts, urban canyon winds will be increased.
– Evaporation will increase, probably lowering urban temperatures. humidity goes up.
Maybe more rainfall down wind. Unlikely to be less rainfall.
– Ground water contamination? If you don’t take out the pollution in the downtown core, it will fall on the countryside anyway.
– Are the current buildings build to do it? You probably want a separate water system that is non-potable primary filtered from street runoff. So what will it take to retrofit an 800 foot building with a 6 inch 500 psi water head main?
– And you want some urban park lakes to serve as setling ponds for the runoff. The water might not be blue, unless it is a two story cement pond, upper level for birds and people, lower cell is streen run off settling pond and the first stage in recycling.
Nothing harmful is permanent. You can try it rather than study it. That’s what I like about it. Try it rather than study it. A low cost social experiment that is bound to help, but by an unknown degree. It is a practical, not wicked, incremental solution that may (or may not) be worth it in the short run.
Heck, even pictures of the runoff sludge alone might kickstart better demands for better pollution controls.

January 6, 2014 5:44 pm

I’m surprised no one has made the connection to acid rain

January 6, 2014 6:34 pm

Re: acid rain
The SO2 is already in the air. The skyscraper sprinklers would tend to concentrate the acid rain in the city with managed runoff instead of raining out further downwind.
There could also be a titration of the acid rain with a the addition of a mild base added to the sprinkler water. Again, some experimentation would be needed to minimize deposition of insoluble precipitates from the neutralized urban rain.

January 6, 2014 7:03 pm

China’s first test Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) goes on line next year after just starting their LFTR program in 2011…
LFTR technology is currently the world’s only viable alternative for cheap, safe, inexhaustible and clean energy with the potential to relatively quickly clean up China’s filthy air (I often go to China on business and know first hand how terrible China’s air quality is from all their coal-burning plants; you have to see it (literally) to believe it…).
LFTRs’ 900C of “waste” heat can also be used to very cheaply and cleanly desalinate sea water to address China’s second major concern of insufficient fresh water supplies, or, for inland LFTRs, can be used to synthesize diesel/jet fuel from H20 + C02 to address petrochemical shortages.
China has basically given up on its solar/wind program with 1,000’s going bankrupt and government loans/subsidies being drastically cut for any solar/wind companies remaining.
The RENIXX (Index of top-30 alt-en companies) peaked at around 2,000 in 2007 and has since collapsed to below 150 in 2012, although it’s been in a dead-cat bounce “recovery” since 2013 and is now trading at around 320….
China is going to eat the world’s lunch again once their LFTR program causes a huge second wave of industrial production to shift to China to take advantage of cheap and inexhaustible energy, while the West continues with its insane Green Elephant wind/solar follies.

January 6, 2014 8:46 pm

Off topic, but I had to send this, no other way I could get it to you – as usual, no details and it is death by press release
From the Herald Sun NEWS
Climate change may slug leaping sea snails
THE effects of climate change could hinder sea snails’ extraordinary ability to leap away from predators on one foot, Queensland researchers have found.
The study shows conch snails, found in sandy areas off coral reefs, find it difficult to make the quick decision to jump out of reach of prey when exposed to higher levels of carbon dioxide.
Lead researcher Dr Sue-Ann Watson of James Cook University says the chemical disrupts the snail’s neurotransmitter receptor, causing it to have a delayed response.
The snail either stops jumping or takes longer to jump when exposed to the levels of carbon dioxide projected for the end of this century, the marine biologist says.
This leaves the three to four centimetre snail more vulnerable to the poisonous dart of its slow-moving nemesis, the cone shell.
“Snails normally move slowly and crawl around on their one big foot,” Dr Watson told AAP.
“But this snail uses its foot in a very special way as it has a strong foot and uses it to push up rapidly on the sand.”
The conch snail normally jumps backwards and can leap the equivalent of its body height.
Dr Watson says the broader effects on the ocean’s ecosystem could be quite profound.
“Altered behaviours between predators and prey have the potential to disrupt ocean food webs,” she said.
Study co-author Professor Goran Nilsson, from the University of Oslo, says results of the study suggest carbon dioxide emissions directly alter the behaviour of many marine animals, including seafood.
The study appears in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

michael hart
January 7, 2014 12:27 am

Apparently without noticing it, the authors have reinvented air conditioning.

M Courtney
January 7, 2014 1:04 am

I thought “that would work” but then I thought; evapouration will lose a lot of water, it will take a lot of energy to pump the water up there and collecting enough clean water at the end will require run-off open drains which are unpleasant.
And then I saw what Mike Ozanne says at January 6, 2014 at 2:10 pm.
My initial enthusasm has dampened somewhat.

January 7, 2014 3:23 am

But humid rainforests are always cooler than dry deserts………….

Bloke down the pub
January 7, 2014 3:46 am

On a programme I saw recently, I think on the BBC, they demonstrated the efficiency of trees (silver birch?) in removing pollution from the air. The small particles, common in diesel exhaust, stick to the leaves until they are washed off by rain. This would appear to be a more efficient and cheaper use of water and would have the added benefit of providing shade.

January 7, 2014 7:21 am

As one of the people that helped clean up the electronics industry and the holder of a patent in air washing devices, I think that this is a very poor solution to a bad problem. Here, I thought only western educated savants published such drivel. Could Chinese bureaucrats be dumb enough to bush this solution? I would hope so. Energy wasteful, water wasteful, increased local soil pollution, ineffective. What is there not to like? pg

January 7, 2014 7:44 am

Wet ground = darker ground = less reflected sunlight = warmer
Wet ground also retains more heat than dry ground.
It will be hotter and moister and more people will die from heatstroke.

January 7, 2014 8:26 am

@p.g.sharrow at 7:21 am
Here, I thought only western educated savants published such drivel.
Western education helped:
“This suggestion comes from Shaocai Yu of Zhejiang University in China, and North Carolina State University in the US.

January 7, 2014 12:54 pm

I remember a few months back reading how the Chinese government is actually launching a campaign to teach its citizens that such air pollution isn’t so bad for your health after all. Unfortunately, I’m sure there’s far too many Chinese citizens who won’t question the Kool-Aid their own government wants them to drink.

george e. smith
January 7, 2014 6:29 pm

Just bubble the fire exhaust through a large tank of water, to precipitate the particulates. Make that a deep tank too.

Brian H
January 8, 2014 3:03 am

Lance Wallace says:
January 6, 2014 at 2:07 pm
Graphs are not coming through for this 2007 link. I’m using Chrome.

Same here, using FF, all filters turned off.

January 8, 2014 2:30 pm

Hehehe when the mold problem starts we can have another environmental disaster from China. I swear is it beyond people to think even one step ahead? But again I will ask, does the pollution seen in China stop you from buying their cheap goods.. if your answer is no then you are part of the problem.

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