Underwater Wall Might Stop The Melting Of The World’s Ice Caps, Scientists Think

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As the global warming is intensifying, scientists suggest creating massive infrastructures to slow the melting of ice, and thus, the rise of water. A recent study came up with a solution – An underwater wall beneath the ice caps.

According to this research, yesterday, September 20th, in The Cryosphere magazine, “targeted engineering projects to contain glacier melt could contain ice cap failure.” The ice caps melt, particularly in Greenland and West Antarctica, is a significant concern for experts. Accordingly, if the immense expanses of water retained by glaciers were to be released, the sea levels could rise by several meters.

For some researchers, ocean warming has already triggered a destabilization process, particularly in West Antarctica via the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers, the first potential source of future sea-level rise.

“Thwaites could easily lead to a monster rupture of the West Antarctic ice cap that would raise the world’s sea level by about 3 meters,” explains one of the authors of this new study, Michael Wolovick from the Princeton University.

Scientists plan to prop a 120-km long underwater wall in front of the ice caps

The ice cap melting and sliding issues occur particularly when the underwater base of the glacier is soaked in warmer water. The researchers came up with several methods to tackle the phenomenon.

Among these methods, there is one that talks about a large structure, a sort of an underwater wall of 50 to 100 meters high and 80 to 120 km long that would be able to partially block the warm water to reach the bottom of an ice cap.

“Geoengineering often means imagining the unimaginable,” says John Moore of Beijing University. “So, instead of trying to change the climate, humanity could choose a targeted intervention, in specific locations with a high leverage effect,” he added.

The researchers point out that “in the long term, humanity may need contingency plans to deal with the rupture of an ice cap.” Nevertheless, for the authors, reducing greenhouse gas emissions remains the key. If an underwater wall propped underneath an ice cap limits the rise of water, they will not affect other equally devastating impacts such as ocean acidification, storms, and heat waves, all of which are triggered by global warming.

Stacy Richardson

Stacy Richardson is a seasoned journalist with 15 years experience.. She has conducted numerous research studies on media effects including the effects of bullying on adolescents, and “sexy media” effects on sexual behavior.  As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Stacy covers stories affecting local politics and economy. Contact Stacy here.