Summers are getting longer in many parts of the world, and similarly, winters are getting warmer by the year. As evident as the impacts of climate change are, the loss of arctic snow and glacier is no longer a myth. 

As per the rising temperature of the earth and atmosphere, polar ice has been melting and disintegrating at an expansive geometrical ratio.

Nevertheless, given the continuing loss of Arctic Sea ice, believe it or not, these glaciers and permafrost have some extraordinary stubbornness. Well, if this is something very hard for you to think about, skim through the following seven last-ditch solutions that could save the Arctic ice for good.

Table of Contents

1. Glass beads to create more ice

Glass beads - save the Arctic
Microscopic glass bead as a reflector to slow ice melt in the Arctic (source)

The sheer dazzling face of the Arctic Sea functions as a giant umbrella over the world, bouncing off the solar radiation back into space and keeping the air and seas cooler all across the planet. 

The potential of arctic ice to reflect sunlight is perhaps an essential feature. The iced waters surrounding the polar regions have operated as a vast canopy, keeping the globe cool and steady.

Unfortunately, as the atmosphere temperature continues to rise, that ice has been reduced in volume at exponential rates.

Much of this permafrost is rapidly melting today. The Arctic has been stuck in a self-destructive vicious circle due to such rising temperatures. 

The reflective ice melts away as the temperature goes up, exposing more of the dark, solar radiation-absorbing ocean surface—warmer air and water speed up the thawing process, which leads to more heat dissipation. 

Hence, leading to further more melting and disintegration of ice. This treacherous and vicious cycle is one of the factors why the Arctic is heating twice as efficiently as the rest of the globe.

Scientists working on the Arctic Ice Project want to counteract this tendency and conserve or even recreate Arctic ice caps by turning them more reflective and refractive. 

The process will be carried out by sprinkling tiny, mega-reflective silicon dioxide pearls on the ice sheet, the same substance as beach sand. The procedure is predicted to increase surface reflectivity and produce additional ice, possibly triggering a freezing feedback loop.

The study explains the strategy in an article published in 2018. Several confirmatory tests were conducted on icy lakes in the United States and Canada, demonstrating that the glass pearls attach to the ice perfectly and operate as sunlight reflectors. 

These beads are similar to the glass pearls implanted in street signs that bounce headlight flashes back to a vehicle at night.

It is expected that the glass treatment of vast sections of ice on the coastline of Greenland might make a dramatic contribution to ice preservation.

2. Underwater sea walls to preserve ice

Undersea wall - save the arctic
Mechanism of underwater sea walls functionality (source)

Constructing seabed barriers could be the next step for addressing gradual arctic disintegration. After dismissing atmospheric seeding and seawater pumping, many climate experts now agree that the only option to rescue glacial ice is to address the conflict situation at its root. 

They propose erecting massive barriers to keep warm sea waters from dissolving glaciers, ocean-facing margins, and enormous ice lumps.

Warm saline water is found at the bottom of polar waters, with freezing waters on the surface. The most serious hazard is the warm water, which causes the floating glacial ice to soften, making the glacier more and more unstable. 

If we can prevent the flow of this warm water, it would be possible to reduce the melting of ice sheets. 

The structures (walls) would stretch from the sea bed to the bottom of the glacier and floating ice masses, anchoring it in position while sheltering it from warm water. They would be created mainly of machine-excavated ocean sediment.

Could these barriers truly prevent the ice from warming up? Scientists assert they can stop underwater glaciers from disintegrating into the ocean by constructing shields of rock and sand. 

As per research released by the European Geosciences Union, this would be a significant effort that buys us some time to fight back the wraiths of climate change. 

The walls would be designed to keep disintegrating glaciers at bay and keep warmer water from reaching the base of glaciers. Creating a superstructure like this would have a 30 percent chance of stopping the West Antarctic ice sheet from collapsing entirely.

3. Arctic Tundra: Rescuer of the arctic region

Arctic Tundra - save the arctic
Reindeer in tundra vegetation of Arctic (source)

Hundreds of years ago, vast populations of wildlife wandered throughout the Arctic tundra. Only a small number of them survive now, but a handful of experts believe we must reintroduce them to aid in the fight against climate change.

Wild horses, reindeer, bison, musk oxen, and other giant animals crush the land and several layers of snow on the upper end as they trudge forward. Snow that is fluffy and feathery acts as an insulator, heating the ground beneath. 

Compact snow, on the other hand, can maintain the soil temperature and make it cooler. The notion is that reintroducing vast flocks of herbivores to the Arctic region will aid in the preservation of permafrost, a carbon-rich blanket of permanently frozen soil that covers most of the tundra.

Vast expanses of permafrost are commencing to warm up and melt as temperatures climb dramatically, melting the Arctic and unleashing climate-changing carbon output in the meantime. Up to this point, the concept was only a hypothesis. 

However, unique research published in the international journal of scientific reports makes a strong argument supporting the theory. 

Experts, alongside Christian Beer of the University of Hamburg in Germany, utilize a mix of empirical data and model simulations to show that significant wildlife populations can compress together the snow so that permafrost temperatures remain much lower than they would be at standard conditions. 

It is believed that this will keep significant regions of permafrost from melting even as air temperatures rise.

4. Introducing windmills in the arctic zone

Windmill - save the arctic
Windmill of Finland (source)

Scientists predict that as global warming accelerates the loss of Arctic Sea ice, hundreds of tiny wind-powered motors could cause the planet’s northern cap to harden and solidify. 

Researchers at Arizona State University propose preventing the further melting of the Arctic ice cap by deploying a massive squadron of wind-powered water pumps all over the planet’s far north region.

Ice is an excellent insulator. Thus thick lumps of icebergs floating on the surface of the ocean restrict seawater underneath them from icing. 

During the Northern winter, though, the average temperature remains chilling, at minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 40 degrees Celsius). That is to say, if the water were not protected from the cold by vast pieces of icebergs, it would quickly solidify. 

The researchers advocated using tiny, wind-powered motors to move waters between 6 and 9 feet (1.8 and 2.7 meters) beneath the ocean ice up to the top, where it may solidify. 

During the prolonged Arctic winter, the pumps would vacuum up icy saltwater and distribute it on the surface, each attached to a pipeline and a wind turbine, with the device fixed to a marker to keep afloat.

According to the researchers, this would help safeguard current ice sheets while also speeding up the creation of new ice. 

In research published recently in the journal Earth’s Future, experts claim that pumping 1.4 meters of water over a specific region of the frozen surface would result in an incremental 1 meter of ice in a single winter. 

About ten million motor pumps might be needed to establish enough ice to cover around 10% of the Arctic, the minimum area necessary to offer a substantial benefit. It would require $50 billion per year to construct, install, and operate the devices. Scientists behind the proposal assert that the theory is convenient and logical, despite being excessively controversial.

5. Carbon Dioxide soaking rocks

CO2 into rock - save the arctics
Soaking CO2 into rock procedure sketch (source)

International carbon dioxide emissions hit an all-time high in 2018, and the United Nations cautioned that we might only have 12 years to avoid the worst consequences of global warming.

In 2012, at a subsurface sampling site located in southwest Iceland, a group of international academics and technologists started pumping carbon dioxide (CO2) into permeable basaltic rocks created by cooling lava. 

Surprisingly, just about all of the atmospheric carbon dioxides had changed into carbonate minerals after two years. Today, engineers erect gigantic turbines on a lonely mountainside in southwest Iceland to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and transform them into rocks. This method is an innovative but expensive strategy to combat global warming.

The corporation is adding eight carbon hoarders, one of every about the capacity of a cargo container in an Icelandic factory that currently captures and retains 50 tons of carbon dioxide each year, bringing the total output to 4,000 tons per year. 

Air is drawn in by turbines, while carbon dioxide is removed via specialized filter media. In only two years, 95 percent of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has calcified or transformed to rock. 

Even though such innovations can help in the fight against climate change, putting them in place on a large scale is likely to be challenging and costly. Researchers stressed that methods like CarbFix aren’t a “magic solution” and that individuals should continue to make everyday efforts to minimize emissions.

6. Cooling hot bedrock

Glaciers shed ice from below as well as at the edge of the water. As glaciers progress, their lower regions brush against the substrate, producing tension and energy to build up and melt ice. 

The difficulty is that when air temperatures rise, it causes more shedding. The quantity of glacial water expands, accelerating glaciers toward the sea quicker than they can replace themselves. 

Experts claim that by creating several tunnels into the bedrock and flowing chilled brine through them, they would be able to fiddle with the cycle and alleviate most of the heat generated through friction. 

They expect that once the brine begins to flow, it will harden some of the water beneath the icebergs, delaying the sliding ice and providing the glacier time to thicken and consolidate.

7. Adjusting the Carbon emission globally

Glacier changes from 1984 to 2016 (copyright: SciNews)

A direct correlation connecting greenhouse gas emissions (specifically CO2) and Arctic ice loss have been illustrated in recent research issued in the Journal of Science. 

The paper demonstrated that for every ton of CO2 released, three square meters of Arctic ice vanishes from the sea, or about 32 square feet.

The Arctic’s summertime iceberg and permafrost will be soon gone if our civilization emits another 700 to 1,000 giga-tons of CO2, which would take around 20 to 25 years at the current pace.

On the brighter side, Arctic Sea ice could quickly stabilize if we reduced our carbon dioxide emissions. In such circumstances, we would have twice as much time before the ice melts.

To Wrap Up

Despite its particular vulnerabilities, the Arctic Ocean remains the least defended of all the world’s waters. 

Although we might see ourselves as nothing compared to the bigger picture, our efforts might not make a comprehensive series of impacts to protect the melting ice. However, we can be careful about leaving our carbon footprints and contributing to the ecosystem’s destruction.

Hence, let us travel that extra mile or save that few drops of water and make as much contribution as possible to shorten the melting of Arctic ice- even if we can delay the process by 1/10000, it indeed makes a difference!

(Last Updated on October 22, 2021 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Shradha Bhatta holds a Bachelors’s Degree in Social Work along with a Post-graduate degree in Project Management from Georgian College in Canada. Shradha enjoys writing on a variety of topics and takes pleasure in discovering new ideas. She likes traveling and spending time with nature. She is a very people-person who loves talking about climate change and alerting people to go green!