Refreezing the Arctic

Ruben Baart
February 20th 2017

According to a recent NASA report, 2016 was the warmest year on record globally, with catastrophic consequences on the future of the northern ice cap. This led a team of 14 scientists to develop a peculiar strategy to fight the Arctic ice melting: refreezing it.

Theoretically, the plan is as follows: the operation will use ten million wind-powered pumps to send water onto the Arctic surface during the winter, which would then freeze and strenghen the ice before the summer. The pumps add an extra surface of sea ice to the existing layer, which is currently between two and three meters in thickness. Keeping in mind this layer is constantly being eroded due to ever increasing temperatures, the strategy sounds like it was born to succeed. But did we already mention it will cost $500 billion?

The project leader, physicist Steven Desch from Arizona State University, comments: “Our only strategy at present seems to be to tell people to stop burning fossil fuels [...] It’s a good idea but it is going to need a lot more than that to stop the Arctic’s sea ice from disappearing”. Humble as it sounds, it is an astonishing amount of money.

While the proposal ensures the realization for 2030, Desch undoubtedly believes in his operation: “The question is: do I think our project would work? Yes. I am confident it would. But we do need to put a realistic cost on these things. We cannot keep on just telling people, ‘Stop driving your car or it’s the end of the world’. We have to give them alternative options, though equally we need to price them”.

Sources: Inhabitat, The Guardian

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