Antarctic Glaciers

Climate change and its effect has been a great source of concern for scientists and environmental protagonists from all over the world.

The conundrum of rise in sea level due to melting of glaciers with the rising temperature of earth have led many scientists to study its impact on the coastal regions of various continents.Climate scientists who have been working on Antarctic ice sheet have predicted that if whole of this ice sheet melts, it would contribute to around 50 metres rise in sea level(Harvey, 2018). Further, they have mentioned that currently Antarctica is losing its ice at a rate which is three times faster than what it used to be six years ago.These high melting rates pose a huge threat to all the continents closer to the Antarctic region.An article by Satherley (2018), has stated thatthe impact of Antarctic glacial melt would have an adverse effect on New Zealand. The predictions suggest that if all of the Antarctic glacier melts, itwould cause submergence of central Aukland, regions like Hamilton and Tauranga would be underwater and Newmarket, Epsom and Mt Roskill would be peeking out of the flood.

Scientists are working on geo-engineering solutions to overcome such overwhelming challenges in the near future. They have come up with an idea of building a wall using rock and sand from the sea floor. An article published in the Cryosphere Journal, from the European Geosciences Union, stated that this barrier would help to hold back the glaciers from meltingas the warm water would not get mixed underwater (Wolovick and Moore, 2018).

This idea seems unrealistic to many, but as per the researchers this may be the only chance of gaining some extra time to combat the global warming and rising sea levels. Wolovick, who is a researcher in Atmosphere and Ocean sciences programme from the Department of Geosciences at Princeton University stated that the structure of the wall is still being designed.However, they plan to keep it very simple through piling of gravel or sand on the ocean floor. Further, he also stated that “the designs are within plausible human achievements”.

Harvey (2018), in her article has cited Wolovick and Moore’s work who have mentioned in their paper that building this wall successfully would require the height of the barrier to be at least 300m and the materials to be around 0.1 to 1.5 cubic km thick.The authors of the Cryosphere report have opined that creating such enormous glacier barriers will need a lot of hard work and enthusiasm from people and from variousengineering fields. Executing such a gigantic project could take a few decades at the least.

Building a barrier or a wall is just one of the ways to the quest of a challenging journey of reducing glacial melt. There is a need of more such innovative geoengineering ideas to help curb natural calamities in the near future.

References:

1.Wolovick M.J and J.C. Moore, 2018. Stopping the flood: could we use targeted geoengineering to mitigate sea level rise?,The Cryosphere, 12, 2955-2967.

2.Harvey F., 2018.Build walls on seafloor to stop glaciers melting, scientists say, The Guardian, September ,20

3. Satherley D.,2018. Antarctica Melts: The impact on New Zealand, Newshub, June, 14