Researchers in the Arctic Circle are urgently working to address the rapid decline of sea ice, a critical issue contributing to global warming. This decline, occurring at a rate of about 13% per decade, could have catastrophic global consequences due to sea ice’s role in reflecting sunlight and keeping the planet cooler. Geo-engineering innovations are being explored, including underwater drones and reflective glass beads designed to slow the melt by bouncing sunlight away from the ice.

How Scientists Aim to Save Arctic Ice

The Wall Street Journal followed a Dutch startup experimenting with ice-thickening techniques inspired by traditional methods used by Dutch ice masters. These methods involve pumping water onto the ice to create additional layers, thereby slowing its decline. The researchers are conducting field tests in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago within the Arctic Circle, and have enlisted scientists to experiment with these techniques. They aim to thicken the ice by up to 14 inches in some areas, but the effort faces significant challenges, including the need to use renewable energy for their pumps in extremely cold conditions.

Understanding the salinity and temperature variations within the ice is crucial for the experiment’s success. Other technologies being tested include drones that resurface seawater and spread reflective glass microbeads. While promising, these innovations require significant investment and international cooperation. Critics caution about unintended consequences, emphasizing that broader efforts to reduce CO2 emissions are also essential. The final results of the Arctic tests, expected later this summer, will determine whether these methods can be scaled up to combat the decline of sea ice effectively.

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