Futurism |For $500 Billion, Scientists Think They Can “Refreeze” the Arctic

In Brief
  • Scientists have proposed a $500 billion plan to use 10 million wind-powered pumps to bring water from beneath the ice to the surface in an effort to thicken the Arctic sheet.
  • While some argue the effectiveness of this plan, we must do something soon as Arctic melting disrupts both the ecosystem of the region and the rest of the planet.

A $500 Billion Project

The world is spending a lot of money in an attempt to reverse the effects of climate change. Investments are being made to fund the creation of emission-free vehicles, infrastructure is being built to support sustainability, research is being conducted to find new sources of non-carbon-emitting energy, and technology is being developed to prevent us from feeling the full brunt of a deteriorating environment.

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Now, a group of scientists want to add $500 billion to the climate change war chest.

Due to climate change, the Arctic has been experiencing unseasonably warm weather that’s causing the ice to melt. The money the scientists are asking for would go toward building 10 million wind-powered pumps that will bring water from beneath the ice to the surface in an effort to refreeze the Arctic. In theory, the water that is pumped to the surface will automatically freeze in the below-zero temperatures and thus add to the ice sheet’s thickness.

The scientists behind the paper estimate that these wind-powered pumps will have to be deployed across 10 percent of the region. They believe they’d need 100 million tons of steel to build the pumps over the course of 10 years. If they could do that, they think they could restore the Arctic to what is was roughly 15 years ago.

The Arctic Crisis

The scientific community is working hard to find more novel solutions to the Arctic crisis, which they argue the 2015 Paris Agreement won’t do enough to remedy. Proposals such as this highlight the need for tangible initiatives that aren’t solely focused on limiting fossil fuel usage.

“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,” said Steven Desch in an interview with The Guardian.

While the proposal is noteworthy, not everyone is convinced that this plan to refreeze the Arctic is at all feasible.

“Global warming in response to rising CO2 concentrations would continue despite efforts to grow ice in the Arctic,” Julienne Stroeve, a senior scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, told CNN. “Thus, the excess heat at lower latitudes would still be transported towards the Arctic via atmospheric and oceanic circulation and this would counter efforts to grow ice in the Arctic.”

In this illustration, blue-gray represents the youngest ice and white represents the oldest. Image Credit: Scientific Visualization Studio/Nasa
In this illustration, blue-gray represents the youngest ice and white represents the oldest.
Image Credit: Scientific Visualization Studio/Nasa

If we do nothing, however, the Arctic will significantly disrupt the ecosystem of the region, leading to the endangerment of various species. It will also trigger more warming across the Earth. Essentially, the Arctic ice serves to reflect the solar radiation that enters the planet’s atmosphere back into space. Without it, the Earth will experience more erratic weather in the Northern Hemisphere and the permafrost will melt, which will release more carbon into the atmosphere.

Whether or not this is the plan that will solve the Arctic crisis, it’s important that we find some solution soon. According to studies, if we do nothing about the world’s carbon emissions and let the Arctic continue on as it is, summer Arctic sea ice will disappear by 2030.

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