Arctic Ice Management: Helping the Sea Ice Grow
Wed, April 21, 2021

Arctic Ice Management: Helping the Sea Ice Grow

The disappearing snow, sea ice, glaciers, and permafrost means that the polar regions of the earth will become unimaginable from what we have known / Photo by: Patrick Kelley via Wikimedia Commons

 

The Arctic is warming at the rate of almost twice the global average, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The disappearing snow, sea ice, glaciers, and permafrost means that the polar regions of the earth will become unimaginable from what we have known. The melting will also cause massive changes in the rest of the world. It can mean higher water levels that can increase flooding in coastal cities.

The Warming of the Arctic

The impacts of climate change can be felt around the world, especially in the Arctic. The reductions in the Arctic sea ice and permafrost and the changes in the weather are increasingly visible. This can cause Arctic marine mammals to suffer, especially since most of them rely on the seasonal presence of sea ice and all depend on the unique ecosystem that the Arctic provides.

The effects of the warming of the atmosphere on the physical, chemical, biological, and human components of the Arctic system are all interconnected. The warming itself has already cascaded from physical changes such as the direct effects of the melting sea ice and sea-level rise to the secondary effects such as the decreased albedo and coastal erosion to tertiary effects like accelerated warming of the ocean due to the different climate factors, as reported by the Marine Mammal Commission.

There can be potentially catastrophic impacts of climate change on Arctic species, the whole Arctic ecosystem, and it can of course also impact human populations in other parts of the world. Hence, there is a need for new ways to manage the melting of the ice and find ways to reduce such a phenomenon.

The impacts of climate change can be felt around the world, especially in the Arctic. The reductions in the Arctic sea ice and permafrost and the changes in the weather are increasingly visible / Photo by: Paul Gierszewski via Wikimedia Commons

 

A New Approach to Arctic Ice Management

Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research have for the first time tested the idea of using a complex climate model that can potentially promote ice formation during the Arctic winter. Their new study was published in the journal Earth’s Future. They claimed that this can potentially be an effective approach to put off ice-free summers for a few more decades.

The team suggested putting on 10 million wind-powered pumps that will be distributed throughout the Arctic for the sole purpose of promoting the formation of sea ice during the winter. This method can continually pump seawater onto the surface of the ice, where it will freeze—the thicker ice can survive summer temperatures and melt longer and reflect the sunlight longer.

The researchers claimed that this can slow down the loss of Arctic sea ice and it can also mitigate remote impacts and even prevent the warming of lower latitudes. This novel concept was actually first proposed by American researchers in 2017, however, this was the first time it was actually put to the test. According to Lorenzo Zampieri, one of the authors of the study, an environmental physicist and a doctoral candidate from the Alfred Wegener Institute’s sea ice prediction research group, his colleagues and him modified the climate model so that the physical aspect can be produced, which is the constant pumping of water on the sea ice’s surface throughout the winter.

Helge Goessling, the head of the research group, explained that usually the growth of ice is limited because as it becomes thicker, the ice also increasingly insulates the ocean from the winter cold. But the pumps will do away with this limiting effect due to the new layers that are added to the ice from above. The team had initial simulations; they placed strategic pumps that churned seawater onto the ice throughout the Arctic for two years and they found out that the ice gained between one to two meters in thickness. According to their model, the carbon dioxide that global warming has produced wouldn’t end the growth of sea ice until the end of the century, as reported on Science Daily, a scientific and environmental website that publishes academic news articles.

Moving forward, the researchers will conduct more realistic simulations in which the pumps will be deployed where the ice is less than two meters thick. According to the team, the two-meter thick ice already has a better chance of surviving the summertime melting with the help of the pumps, thus the unnecessary and considerable wintertime warming can be prevented and avoided.

However, this procedure will do little to mitigate climate change. It is true that the warming of the Arctic in the summer can be reduced to about 1 degree Celsius and the loss of the sea ice can be delayed for about 60 years, but the increased reflection of the sunlight will not be sufficient enough to slow the climate change outside the Arctic.

The team will continue their research in Arctic ice management and it can potentially be very helpful in promoting the formation of the lost sea ice again. Unfortunately, climate change is already happening and the devastating effects of it will be felt in the years to come. Proper management is the only thing people can do now in order to survive.

The team will continue their research in Arctic ice management and it can potentially be very helpful in promoting the formation of the lost sea ice again / Photo by: Pink floyd88 a via Wikimedia Commons