Could We Refreeze The Arctic Manually?
There has been a lot of talk about the worrying issue of decreasing sea ice in the Arctic following a record third straight winter where average temperatures have risen and the volume of ice has reduced. Many predict that if we carry on this way, the Arctic will be completely free of ice by the year 2030, decimating ecosystems and wiping out entire species of animals in the process.
Believing that solving the problem by simply asking people to reduce their carbon footprint and limit the amount of energy they use is futile, a team of scientists from Arizona State University have formulated a novel and innovative way to increase sea ice in the Arctic region and ensure that this bleak prediction for life in 2030 does not become a reality.
The solution sounds simple but in practice there are concerns over how viable it would be. Whilst only a theory at the moment, the team suggest that the ice can be refrozen through artificial means. This would involve using large water pumps, powered by the wind, to take the water from underneath the ice layer and spray it on the top, where temperatures are coldest. This will not increase the size of the ice layer by creating new ice, but will instead make the existing ice thicker and therefore last for a longer period of time.
Is This Really An Option?
Sounds like it could work, right? Well, the science is sound. Taking water from underneath the existing ice and spraying it onto the top could increase the thickness by around a metre – that’s two-thirds more than the mean annual thickness of half the Arctic ice that exists today. However, the problem comes when you consider the sheer scale of the project. To cover the entire Arctic with these pumps, you would need around 10 million of them at a cost of around $500 billion. Not only that but to enable them to float, a large amount of steel would be needed to counterbalance the weight of the pump. In total, each pump would require 10,000kg of steel. That’s a mammoth 10 million tons of steel being produced each year, resulting in the burning of millions of tons of fossil fuels - something that could be described as counterproductive for a venture attempting to save our climate.
Whilst this farfetched idea sounds as though it could work, time will tell whether it really is a viable way to protect one of the most delicate environments on the planet.
All In The Name Of Research
In other Arctic news, a researcher in Canada has developed an interesting way to look into the lives of muskoxen, which would have definitely made our list of innovative ways scientists are gathering polar research. Having previously used helicopters and tranquilising darts to track and tag the muskoxen (large, buffalo-like creatures that once shared the plains with woolly mammoths), Joel Berger has now switched to a more tactful and less stress-inducing approach.
In order to see whether the muskoxen are being actively hunted by polar bears, as it becomes harder for them to hunt on the sea ice, Berger is dressing up as the king of the Arctic food chain and watching the reaction of the muskoxen. His approach in a homemade polar bear costume could cause the beasts to charge but his tactic of jumping back to his feet (from all fours) is usually enough to confuse them and halt them in their tracks.
If you want to see these fascinating landscapes for yourself and learn about why they need to be protected so badly, we have a wide range of Arctic cruises available. Call our team today to discuss all the adventures we have available.