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Running the numbers on an insane scheme to save Antarctic ice



 Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier sheds some icebergs. Could we ... sort of ... put them back?
Enlarge / Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier sheds some icebergs. Could we … sort of … put them back?

Imagine, if you will, the engineers of the king's court after Humpty Dumpty's disastrous case. As a result of the accident, the engineers were scoping out scenarios, looking for a better method of reassembling the poor fellow.

A recent study published in Science Advances might be relatable for those fairy tale engineers. Published by Johannes Feldmann, Anders Levermann, and Matthias Mengel at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research: Antarctic glaciers with artificial snow?

Antarctica's ice is divided Intarctic Ice Sheet representing one of the largest wildcards for future sea level rise. In 201
4, Glacier-and Thwaite's Glacier-Glacier and Thwaite's glacier-glacier had a transient, high-level global warming-time guarantee halted today.

Much of the bedrock beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is actually below sea level, though it's buried below kilometer of solid ice. This makes for situations where the bed below the ice slopes down as you go inland from the coast.

In the case of the Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers, it seems that this is exactly what's happening.

Is there any particular measure that could prevent the loss and preservation of glaciers? People often ask, and scientists are ignorant.

But in this case, the researchers decided to go wild. Using a computer model of the ice sheet, they simulated the effects of adding huge amounts of ice near the front of these two glaciers. The idea works like this: Where a glacier meets the sea, it transitions from grounded to floating. Behind this "grounding line," the glacier sits on the bedrock and sediment below; in front of it gets thinner and floats as an ice shelf

 This map shows the elevation below the ice sheet, with the white box Highlighting the area of ​​the Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers where snow would be added in this scenario. " src = "https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/antarctia_geoeng_fake_snow-2-640x476.jpg" width = "640" height = "476" srcset = "https: // cdn. arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/antarctia_geoeng_fake_snow-2-1280x952.jpg 2x
Enlarge / This map shows the elevation below the ice sheet, highlighting the area

Spreading it out.

Spreading it out Over a longer period, the total amount has to be increased, and the total amount has been increased These are enough to restabilize these glaciers, […]

Two for one special

To get that into water, it would take more than 2 millimeters per year. Current total sea level rise is a little over 3 millimeters per year, so it would almost be halting sea level rise … by bailing water out of the ocean. We can call that a bonus positive.

This analysis is more about what it would take to do it freeze it into snow like the world's most awkwardly located ski resort.

Here's the impractical and all the negative impacts it could have. For starters, the seawater would have to become desalinated since salt would probably affect the physics and behavior of the ice. It would require 12,000 wind turbines – and that's without the very substantial energy requirements for desalination and snow-making.

The Impact on Antarctic ecosystems could also be huge.

In the Potsdam Institute's press release, Levermann puts it this way: "The apparent absurdity of the endeavor to let it snow in Antarctica to stop at ice instability reflects the breath-taking dimension of the sea-level problem. Yet […]

And to be clear, this is in addition to halting climate change-the scenario the numbers are not rising. But as the alternative is eventual inundation of parts of the world's coastal cities, the argument could be made. Humpty Dumpty is back together again.

Science Advances, 2019. DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.aaw4132 (About DOIs).


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