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Blankets over glaciers?





Afaceinthematrix
Dr. Jason Box has proposed that he can put blankets over glaciers that reflect sunlight and prevent melting. It seems a little far-fetched, but it might work. It also seems a little unpractical. How much money would it be to wrap of Greenland (and the rest of the arctic)? It's pretty interesting, though. Check out the full article.

http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/project-earth/lab-books/greenland/greenland-guide1.html
Gagnar The Unruly
I can understand the importance of preserving the light-reflecting properties of the Earth's polar ice, but isn't reducing greenhouse gas emissions a much more direct and simple way of addressing the climate crisis?

By the way, the plot they have covered is only 100 m on a side. You would need 1.5 BILLION tarps that size to cover the 15 million square kilometers of sea ice in the arctic alone (if my math is correct).
Indi
Reducing emissions will fix the problem... sloooooooooooooowly.

But in the case of emergency - in the face of climate changes that are disastrous (a point we're approaching) - you need a quick fix. This kind of thing would do the trick in a pinch. In fact, unless i'm reading it wrong, that's all they intend to use it for - a band-aid over a particularly sensitive part of the ice. It's a temporary stop-gap.

If we do get to the brink of catastrophe, a similar tactic might do the job of staving off any major climate change while we wait for the atmosphere to readjust itself. i've recommended something similar in the past (although, i've recommended it in the form a satellite with a giant film or net - several kilometers across).

But of course, this is a desperation measure.
ocalhoun
Indi wrote:
(although, i've recommended it in the form a satellite with a giant film or net - several kilometers across).

I wonder if releasing a cloud of dust would be better than a reflective film satellite...
Indi
ocalhoun wrote:
Indi wrote:
(although, i've recommended it in the form a satellite with a giant film or net - several kilometers across).

I wonder if releasing a cloud of dust would be better than a reflective film satellite...

Better as in cheaper, sure. ^_^; i've always thought that would be too hard to control though. We could predict the motion of dust in the upper atmosphere now because our climate is relatively stable... but if the air patterns are in flux - as they would be while the temperature is changing - all that goes to pot. You'd also have to make and control two clouds - one over the Arctic and one over the Antarctic - versus one satellite for the whole Earth.

Maybe i'm not giving enough credit to the meteorologists, and the folks who study the upper atmosphere. Maybe they can plot out the motion of a cloud like that during rapidly changing climate conditions without any problems.
ocalhoun
^Er, I was thinking more like putting a cloud of dust in orbit... It would probably need to be replaced more often than a satellite, but it would be immune to collisions. I suppose it would eventually settle into a ring, but if it was placed right, that still might do the job.
Gagnar The Unruly
I don't think you're the only person to have that idea. I think I remember someone saying that some scientists have considered it as a way to reverse global warming. Pollution in the upper atmosphere results in global dimming that has a cooling effect. It seems like that would cause other problems, though.
ptolomeo
A very nice Idea, surely to fabricate the sheet is surely far more cheap than stopping contaminating the planet. We would have to be careful not to contaminate too much in the process of making the blanket. I think if the polar bear and the ecosystem in the north pole, wouldn't it be too much affected by the giant blanket? But after all we are more important than animals. But we would have to take the compromise to stop contaminating, otherwise we will end covering the hole planet, and that will be surely a very very bad thing. The other idea it was porposed was to make a giant refrigerator with the hot part radiating to space, so as to cool the earth. I think that last idea is a poorer solution to the problem, I think the idea of the blanket is far better.
WicCaesar
Don't forget to tell a story and give a good-night kiss.
jmaninc68
doesnt seem to crazy of an idea but do you have any idea how many glaciers there are in the world haha
Klaw 2
jmaninc68 wrote:
doesnt seem to crazy of an idea but do you have any idea how many glaciers there are in the world haha


Quite a lot Alaska has about 100,000
http://ak.water.usgs.gov/glaciology/FAQ.htm
Duno if it's reliable.
Any way you can cover glaciers up however, it will be a drop on a hot plate cause you need gazillions of blankets to cover glaciers up and does it help to stop global warming in any way that makes a difference?
ocalhoun
Perhaps putting a reflective coating on the most reflective parts of the Earth is a waste of time... Perhaps focusing on the least reflective parts would be more effective?
Indi
The best place to put it would be at the poles. 24 hour sunlight six or so months of the year per pole.
ocalhoun
Indi wrote:
The best place to put it would be at the poles. 24 hour sunlight six or so months of the year per pole.

Made up by 6 months of darkness, but it still filters through more atmosphere than sunlight anywhere else, which means that less light will get to the reflectors to be sent back, and more of the light that is reflected will be absorbed or reflected back again by the atmosphere.
Gagnar The Unruly
Yeah, the reason its so cold is because the fewest photons reach the poles. To increase albedo, better to set up tarps in the tropics.
slashnburn99
600 million years ago

The UK was by the equator we are now heading up to the North of this planet

Time changes, i would say its a natural progression.

We are only visitors, would this have happened anyway,

Have we only accelerated the ice caps melting.

If we cover them, that heat is going to go somewhere else, what will that change
Jinx
Volcanic eruptions can cause temporary periods of global cooling because of the vast amounts of particulates and aerosols they release into the upper atmosphere... perhaps we could artificially induce an eruption on the scale of Krakatoa and give ourselves a couple of years of cooling while we work on reducing our carbon emissions.
It would require finding an active volcano in an out of the way place, difficult due to over-population. Then we would have to figure out how to trigger an eruption with a large output of debris rather than a slow lava flow. The volcano would have to have an active buildup of pressure... Mt. St. Helens would probably work if it wasn't so close to a major population center.
liljp617
slashnburn99 wrote:
Time changes, i would say its a natural progression.

We are only visitors, would this have happened anyway,


I'm always slightly annoyed by this assertion/argument.
HamsterMan
liljp617 wrote:

I'm always slightly annoyed by this assertion/argument.

Feel free to share your thoughts on the matter.

That earth is constantly changing is a fact. And we might have changed the rate for which it is changing.
But the earth was never static. And it would never have remained in this state forever.

About the blankets... Well, if the earth was experiencing global cooling at the moment it MAY have been a good idea to put something cheap non-reflective to trap more heat. But the glaciers are already very reflective so there wouldn't be too much to gain by doing it compared with using the workforce needed for this to trying to get cleaner energy instead.
ujjawall
I wonder if releasing a cloud of dust would be better than a reflective film satellite...
ujjawall
Maybe i'm not giving enough credit to the meteorologists, and the folks who study the upper atmosphere. Maybe they can plot out the motion of a cloud like that during rapidly changing climate conditions without any problems.
LittleBlackKitten
And how do you stop the animals from tearing up, eating through, shredding, and otherwise destroying the tarps/blankets/ect?

That's about as logical as a giganitic sunglass piece floating in space for the area...
ato784
LOL, blankets will save the world.

the funny thing is that it could actually work, if enough money is put into it.
PGe-tips
On a smaller scale they already do it to prevent melting of glaciers from ski-resorts. I once saw it at the end of the holiday season on the Hintertux Glacier in Austria. But of course here's a clear economical reason. For glacier that don't have a commercial function time is ticking if they are not already gone.
Climate is definitely changing ... besides global warming it''s also getting more extreme. Warmer summer colder winters and more rain in between.

But my personal opinion is that policy will not be changing soon. Cancun is just a conference like any other: A forum for those who have no power to change and for those just attending ... an incentive near a touristic area.
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