Scientists present an unusual plan to slow down the melting of ancient Arctic ice – using reflective glass beads.
As a result of climate change, Arctic ice is rapidly disappearing. Melting glaciers cause extreme weather fluctuations such as floods, heatwaves, and droughts. Scientists present a bold plan to slow down the melting of glaciers.
The Melting Ice Cycled Issue
The bright white Arctic ice reflects the sun’s rays into space. The old thick sea ice, which most reflects sunlight, has shrunk by an incredible 95% in the last 33 years.
Here is a diagram of the melting ice cycled issue:
Reflective white Arctic ice dissolves into blue sea water -> blue seawater absorbs more heat than white reflective ice -> warmer water accelerates the melting of Arctic ice -> melting accelerates heat absorption -> heat absorption leads to further melting.
The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the Globe. This cycle creates a cyclical issue that scientists need to solve.
Will Glass Powder Slow Down the Ice Melting?
Engineer Leslie Field has launched a bold Arctic Ice project: to disperse a reflective glass powder in Artic’s specific parts. A thin layer of small glass beads with a 65 micrometers diameter could reflect the sun’s rays and help the ice grow.
“We’re trying to break this loop and start building again,” Field, the organization’s chief technical officer and assistant lecturer at Stanford University.
They tested hollow glass beads on Canadian and American lakes. Several glass powder layers scattered on a Minnesota pond increased the young ice reflectivity by 20% – enough to reduce ice melting.
In the spring season, scientists found ice remnants under the glass layer, while in other parts of the pond, the ice disappeared.
Once the scientists apply the proposal in practice, the question is what impact the powder may have on the ecosystem. Researcher at Washington University’s Cecilia Bitz, who specializes in Arctic sea ice, worries that “it’s just going to clog up the ocean and mess with the ecosystem.”
Lesli Field believes that the Arctic Ice project is safe because the beads are made from silician oxide, which occurs abundantly in nature.