Last month a team of researchers have come up with a crazy plan to limit the extent of melting glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland. Melting glaciers could cause rising sea levels and threaten the lives of people who live on the coast.
Hundreds of millions of people live alongside our planet’s coastlines. These people and the infrastructure around them will be the first to be affected by rising sea levels. One of the most likely explanations for rising sea levels is the fact that the biggest glaciers in the world are melting. However a team of researchers have come up with an idea to prevent the potential issues that could arise from rising sea levels. Considered to be the greatest civil engineering project in the world, these researchers are looking into building a support structure to prop up the glaciers preventing them from melting.
For the moment this idea is only written down on paper. The researchers, who published their study in the Cryosphere journal, admit “ice sheet intervention today would be at the edge of human capabilities.” However the researchers remind us that there is enough ice on Antarctica to raise sea levels worldwide by almost 200 ft.
Researchers have concentrated their study on the gigantic Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica which is becoming increasingly fragile. This glacier alone has the potential to increase sea levels by about 3 metres. Researchers have proposed two possible methods. The first method involves propping up the glacier with a series mounts around 300 metres below the glacier. In this instance the warmer waters might still manage to rub against the glacier but the structure would at least be able to prevent it from collapsing. With this method, researchers estimate that there is a 30% chance that the glacier will not collapse over the next 1000 years.
The second method which is much more complicated involves building a wall under the glacier which would this time prevent warmer waters from the shallows rubbing against the ice. It is estimated that the proposal has a 70% chance of success in preventing waters from rising for the next 1000 years.
Although these ideas are still in the theoretical stages, these two methods are just “bandage” solution and will not regulate the problem of global warming. Rising sea levels is only one of many effects caused by climate change. Therefore we should do all that we can, not just to temporarily seal over the issue, but to directly tackle the problem at it’s source.
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