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Ice911: Slowing Down Glacier Melt to Buy Time for Long Term Climate Solutions

 

Chief among climate scientists’ concerns is the loss of the reflective power of Arctic ice when it melts due to rising ocean temperature. The dark water that replaces reflective ice absorbs more solar radiation, warming the ocean even more. This process of “Arctic melt” is causing one-third of the increases in temperature, and climate pattern changes. It also accelerates rising sea rising and the release of methane and other potent greenhouse gases, which reside beneath sea ice and the Arctic permafrost. Worse, these dynamics generate a powerful downward cycle.

Ice911 Research, a Silicon Valley nonprofit, is seeking to reverse the melting of arctic glaciers by restoring the “albedo” (natural reflective power) of ice. The data from their small-scale experiments show that by adding simple, ecologically safe materials to water, it freezes 1.45 times faster, lasts 1.77 times longer in sun and has a higher albedo than the control water/ice.

Ice911 seems to be an effective, short-term solution that can help buy time to develop sustainable energy alternatives and long-term solutions.  Ice911 founder, Dr. Leslie Field-Barth, and the NASA Ames Research Center are discussing a possible collaboration in an effort to create a federally acknowledged program to slow global warming.  As one NASA scientist observed, “Ice911 is the best trick I’ve heard of yet.”

Sources:

Jason Box, ”Persistent Warm Over Artic Ocean, Persistent Cold Over US and Continental Asia,” Dark Snow, February 6, 2014, http://darksnowproject.org.

Jeff Gillies, “Sensor System Tests Efforts to Artificially Boost Polar Ice Formation, Albedo,” Environmental Monitor, December 5, 2013, http://www.fondriest.com/news/ice911-boost-polar-ice-albedo.htm.

Sue Lubeck, “Ice911: Buying Time for Green Innovation” GreenBIz.com, January 24, 2014, http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2014/01/24/ice911-buying-time-green-innovation.

Student Researcher: Frank Leal (San Francisco State University)

Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows (San Francisco State University)

  • TR M October 10, 2014

    More geo-engineering? Okay my standard 2 questions for ALL geo-eng projects.

    1) What is the break pedal?
    2) What is the reverse gear?

    Next we have the fact that we have only been monitoring polar ice accurately since the late 1970s. We have about 34 years of data. Do you really think that is a long enough collection to justify geo-eng solutions?

    After that we get to the fact that the entire satellite record of the polar ice has been done during the warm phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). That is a 55-60 year sine wave that has about 30 years for each half of the cycle. One half is negative (cold) and the other is positive (warm). The cold phase of the PDO from 1945-1975 had everyone talking of another ice age. The Pacific, being a very large body of water, retains some heat even after the cycle changes and takes a while to heat up. About a decade so the warmth only kicked in seriously around 1985. It went negative around 2001 (Dr Easterbrook) so we should be getting cold any time now and stay that way for 20-25 more years.

    The Antarctic ice is now at record levels for the satellite era so the cold phase may have already started in the southern hemisphere first. The Arctic ice is back to within 2 standard deviations of the average for the satellite era (warm phase of the PDO). It is almost at the 1 standard deviation level. Why bother when it clearly is not an issue?

    Then there is the soot issue. Soot on the Arctic is a major factor in absorbing radiation and melting ice. Have we cleaned that up yet? Why not start with that? It needs to be done anyway so why not start there?

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