Preventing melting from glaciers.

Climate change has brought a flood of novel ideas to mitigate the possible damages caused by the increase of temperatures on the planet. One of these ideas involves building walls to prevent undersea glaciers from sliding and so holding back sea levels from rising.

This solution of erecting barriers of rock and sand would simply buy us time as climate changes takes hold on the planet. Still, it would be a massive undertaking.

These structures would not only hold back melting glaciers but also prevent warmer water from reaching the bases of the undersea glaciers. It is now believed that warmer waters in the oceans may be the leading cause of underwater melting these glaciers.

Scientists looked at the Thwaites glacier in Antarctica, one of the widest glaciers at 80 to 100km wide. According to this study it would take as much material to create structures on the sea floor as was required for the construction of the Palm Islands of Dubai or of the Suez canal. This structure would have a 30% probability of preventing a collapse of the Antarctica ice sheet.

If a more complex design is used, a small underwater wall could have a 70% chance of blocking half of the warm water from reaching the ice shelf.

Undersea melting is a real problem as many glaciers in Antarctica extend far under the sea. If more melting occurs at the poles it will discharge vast amounts of fresh water and sea levels will rise faster than they have in the past. The single biggest source of future sea level rises could be the Thwaites glacier as it could raise global sea levels by three metres.

Clearly reducing carbon emissions is a must as the less is emitted the more the various ice sheets will survive in the long term close to their present volume.


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