ICE911 RESEARCH: PRESERVING AND REBUILDING REFLECTIVE ICE
Abstract:We have developed a localized surface albedo modification technique that shows promise as a method to increase reflective multi-year ice using floating materials, chosen so as to have low subsidiary environmental impact. It is now well-known that multi-year reflective ice has diminished rapidly in the Arctic over the past 3 decades and this plays a part in the continuing rapid decrease of summer-time ice. As summer-time bright ice disappears, the Arctic is losing its ability to reflect summer insolation, and this has widespread climatic effects, as well as a direct effect on sea level rise, as oceans heat and once-land-based ice melts into the sea.
We have tested the albedo modification technique on a small scale over six Winter/Spring seasons at sites including California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, a Canadian lake, and a small man-made lake in Minnesota, using various materials and an evolving array of instrumentation. The materials can float and can be made to minimize effects on marine habitat and species. The instrumentation is designed to be deployed in harsh and remote locations.
Localized snow and ice preservation, and reductions in water heating, have been quantified in small-scale testing. We have continued to refine our material and deployment approaches, and we have had laboratory confirmation by NASA.
In the field, the materials were successfully deployed to shield underlying snow and ice from melting; applications of granular materials remained stable in the face of local wind and storms. We are evaluating the effects of snow and ice preservation for protection of infrastructure and habitat stabilization, and we are concurrently developing our techniques to aid in water conservation.
Localized albedo modification options such as those being studied in this work may act to preserve ice, glaciers, permafrost and seasonal snow areas, and perhaps aid natural ice formation processes. If this method is deployed on a large enough scale, it could conceivably bring about a reduction in the Ice-Albedo Feedback Effect, possibly slowing one of the key effects and factors in climate change.