Geoengineer Polar Glaciers to Slow Sea-Level Rise

Article Geoengineer Polar Glaciers to Slow Sea-Level Rise

Stalling the fastest flows of ice into the oceans would buy us a few centuries to deal with climate change and protect coasts, argue John C. Moore and colleagues.

Nature,

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As it is becoming increasingly unlikely that drastic emissions reductions will avert accelerated climate change, humans will have to look for ways to ease the impacts of a warming planet. Chief among them are rising sea levels, which will threaten the livelihoods of millions of coastal dwellers around the world. In the journal Nature, a group of scientists outline how three proposed engineering projects in Greenland and Antarctica could stave off glacial melting.

Summary

Slowing down glacial melting through geoengineering may help avert catastrophic sea-level rise due to global warming.

If average global temperatures increase by 2 degrees Celsius [3.6°F] by 2050, global sea levels will rise by about 20 centimeters on average. By 2100, sea levels around the world’s major coastal cities are projected to be more than one meter higher than today, displacing millions of people.

The source of most of the water added to the world’s oceans will come from melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. Some scientists are proposing ways to slow down the loss of ice sheets through geoengineering.

The Jakobshavn glacier in western Greenland would lend itself well to test the feasibility of glacial geoengineering.

The Jakobshavn glacier in western Greenland is retreating at a rapid pace. Warm water washing in from the Atlantic is causing rapid melting at the glacier’s base. To stem the influx of warm water, geoengineers suggest...

About the Authors

John C. Moore is chief scientist at the College of Global Change and Earth System Science, Beijing Normal University, China; and professor of climate change at the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland. Rupert Gladstone is a geoscientist at the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland. Thomas Zwinger is an application scientist at the CSC-IT Center for Science, Espoo, Finland. Michael Wolovick is a glaciologist at Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, USA.


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