Scientists Want To Dump 7.4 Trillion Tons Of Artificial Snow On Antartica

Ctvhong - Aug 15, 2019, 1:16 pm IST


Three scientists have launched a project that plans to put 7,400 gigatons of snow here with the aim of preventing the glaciers’ runaway instability.

Are there any solutions to the disintegration of ice sheets in Antarctica that causes the worldwide sea levels to rise hugely? A team of three scientists has launched a geoengineering project that plans to put 7,400 gigatons of snow here with the aim of preventing the glaciers’ runaway instability.

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Scientists plan to drop artificial snow onto Antarctica

According to recent studies, warmer ocean water is currently being pushed to the huge ice sheet in West of Antartica, which destabilize it and speeds up its huge glaciers' decline. The threat posed by these glaciers melting into the sea has a far-reaching consequence and their decrease has been estimated to cause the level of the ocean water to rise by about three meters or more, putting many cities, such as New York, into a dangerous situation.

The glaciologist at the University of Tasmania, Sue Cook, makes an explanation that "The real concern is that many of these glaciers have a reverse bed slope, meaning that as they retreat it exposes deeper and thicker ice to the ocean." She also affirms that "That is a very unstable position, and causes a positive feedback effect which accelerates the retreat (and hence contributing to sea-level rise)."

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The plan of artificial snow will present an unprecedented effort for humans

Published last month in the journal Science Advance, the new study puts forward a radical geoengineering project, lasting for decades, that will pump the ice sheet with a great quantity of water from the ocean to add 7.4 trillion tons (or 7,400 gigatons) of “artificial snow” in order to reverse the decrease. Experimenting the present impact on ice sheets in Antarctica and their difference with an increase in the amount of snowfall, the scientists were able to plan in details a process that had the ability to stop the decrease of ice sheets.

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The plan comes with many unsolved problems

However, this process comes with a few problems. This plan can be an extremely expensive task and immense challenges in terms of technology. According to the authors, this suggestion would bring about "unprecedented effort for humankind."

The main issue is the act of extracting the ocean water, that requires a huge amount of energy. In the study, the scientists make a suggestion of building 12,000 wind turbines in order for this process to go well to the end. After that, two huge glaciers on the coast of West Antarctica would be pumped with 7,400 gigatons of artificial snow. The study also mentions that this process might cause the sea level to drop by two to five centimeters. However, in return, the added amount of artificial snow over the surface are able to make the glaciers stronger, which results in improvements in their stability.

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People’s activities have resulted in bad changes to the earth

At the same time, these scientists have yet to figure out the solutions to the bigger impacts of a scheme like this. How will this impact on the ecosystem in Antarctica in the long term? What are knock-on impacts on the ocean currents around the globe? At this moment, men still haven’t found out any answers to these problems.

The thing humans do have knowledge of is the present default state of the Earth. People burn a huge amount of fossil fuels and emit tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which leads to global warming and causes large changes, including the endangering situation of millions of species, and, as claimed in this article, the melting of many massive glaciers. Taking into great consideration the likelihood of dumping artificial snow into Antarctica would be a little far move forward.

According to Sue Cook, "even if a geoengineering project such as this were possible, it certainly shouldn't detract from the other urgent action which is required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

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