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What can we do to minimize the rapid melting of glaciers worldwide?

Image credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/BWGsFbQheTQ

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Nitish
Nitish Jan 01, 2021
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In 2019, Iceland reported complete melting of its first glacier . It's just an example among several catastrophic conditions we have triggered through exhaustive exploitation of natural entities. We can't deny global warming, and we have to face it at anyhow. It is also true; we can not stop the melting of our glaciers. But, is there any possible way to at least reduce the speed of their melting? Glaciers are our shield, and if they finished, we would not be so certain about our own existence.


[1]https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/deep-frozen-arctic-microbes-are-waking-up/

4
Creative contributions

An aggressive approach: Refreezing

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Jan 06, 2021
An aggressive approach has been proposed by Faris Rajak Kotahatuhaha. It suggests using a submarine to freeze water into hexagonal blocks of ice and then release them. If this process is continued for a sufficiently long time, an artificially constructed sheet of ice may develop near the poles.

Although we are thinking of mechanisms that will help us "treat" the loss of glaciers, this particular procedure can help "prevent" it.

Why hexagonal? - Because they will fit into each other creating a huge mass of ice.

The submarine will have a hexagonal hole. It will submerge and water will enter the hexagonal chamber. The chamber will then be sealed from up and below, trapping the water inside. The sealing will also help prevent sunlight from reaching the water and the water will freeze quicker than it would have only due to the temperature at the poles (or where glaciers are found). Then the water will be desalinized using reverse osmosis. The submarine uses a giant freezing machine to accelerate the freezing process. The formed ice blocks will be about 2073 cubic meters. The same process will be repeated multiple times.

Watch the video here.
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Jamila
Jamila a year ago
Wow, that's amazing.

Thanks for sharing this fascinating idea! 2073 cubic meters is quite big. I wonder how long this process would take to form a single ice block.😊
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarnia year ago
Jamila Yes, that is huge. With accelerated freezing, it might be done quicker than we think. Moreover, this will be a perpetual process. The submarine will keep on making the ice hexagons initially with a pace that helps recover the melted ice. The pace can then be reduced just to maintain an optimum amount of ice cover in the region. Since this is a standardized process, I think we may even use unmanned submarines that are controlled remotely. The process can then go on with minimum downtime.
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Underwater walls to reduce glaciers melting and rising sea levels

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Jamila
Jamila Jan 04, 2021
Global warming contributes to the erosion of glaciers and subsequently rising sea levels. Researchers believe that using sand and rock structures underneath glaciers could prevent ice sheets from collapsing because this would stop warm water from eroding the ice. The research article was titled "Stopping the flood: could we use targeted geoengineering to mitigate sea level rise?" and was published in the Cryosphere journal.

Here's an image summarising how the technology works:
The image was taken from Wolovick et al. 2018 (doi.org/10.5194/tc-12-2955-2018)

[1]Wolovick, Michael J., and John C. Moore. "Stopping the flood: could we use targeted geoengineering to mitigate sea level rise?." Cryosphere 12.9 (2018).

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Solidify the water underneath the glacier

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Jan 28, 2021
Glaciers also lose ice from underneath because of the water between the glaciers and the underlying bedrock. As glaciers move, their bottom surfaces scrape against the bedrock, generating friction and heat and causing some ice to melt.

Michael Wolovick proposed a solution to ameliorate this frictional heating, which is drilling a series of tunnels in the bedrock and pumping cold brine (water with a high salt concentration) through them. Once the brine starts flowing, he hopes it could freeze some of the water underneath the glacier, slowing the moving ice in its tracks, and giving the glacier time to solidify.

[1]https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/can-these-bold-plans-keep-world-s-ice-sheets-melting-ncna877616#anchor-Coolinghotbedrock

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Insulating glaciers with insulating foam

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J. Nikola
J. Nikola Feb 01, 2022
The idea
Covering ice glaciers with insulating foam, rather than insulating blankets.
Wait, what? Why? How?
The Rhone glacier is very popular among tourists because of its ice caves, which is, besides the protection of the ecosystem, another reason why locals want to keep it cold. Data show that the glacier can lose up to 12 cm of thickness on a hot summer day . Therefore, although it seems counterintuitive, people have been covering the Rhone glacier with over 20 000 sqm of white blankets during hot summer months and measured an astonishing 70% reduction in melting. The blankets are UV-resistant and reflect the sun away, keeping the surface of the glacier colder. The same principle is applied to some other Swiss glaciers, but most of them are not, due to their large surfaces.
How could we up-scale it?
Back in 2005, researchers had a plan of covering a Swiss glacier with a layer of insulating foam . I couldn't find anything new about it, besides the above-mentioned insulating blankets. My idea would be to develop a foam that has following characteristics:
  • is white, so it reflects the sunlight (insulate whatever is below it)
  • is temperature-sensitive (stays solid on higher temperatures, degrades on temperatures below 5 °C)
  • is non-pollutant (doesn't become an ecological problem when in the ecosystem)
  • is non-harmful for the animals and humans
  • can be collected by a giant vacuum collector if needed
  • can be produced in large quantities
  • can be recycled

[1]https://phys.org/news/2015-12-blankets-swiss-glacier-vain-effort.html

[2]https://wwf.panda.org/wwf_news/?19245/Plans-to-wrap-Swiss-glacier-with-insulating-foam-fails-to-address-climate-change

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni4 months ago
The problem I find with covering a glacier is that the animals that live there burrow to make a living space. Even the birds construct nests on the walls of the glaciers. Wherever the layer is thin, animals make holes and expose the underflowing water. They catch fish at such places. The foam covering will disrupt the lives of all these animals. Also, some stronger animals might tear the foam apart and make do.
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J. Nikola
J. Nikola4 months ago
Shubhankar Kulkarni All things you mentioned are true. Maybe we could partner up with a local nature conservation agency, find places that animals use to catch fish or find water and leave some non-covered areas there.
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