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Arctic Ice Management

Steven J. Desch Nathan Smith Christopher Groppi Perry Vargas Rebecca Jackson Anusha Kalyaan Peter Nguyen Luke Probst Mark E. Rubin Heather Singleton Alexander Spacek Amanda Truitt Pye Pye Zaw Hilairy E. Hartnett
Created: 10/19/2018 - Updated: 12/28/2018

Abstract

As the Earth's climate has changed, Arctic sea ice extent has decreased drastically. It is likely that the late‐summer Arctic will be ice‐free as soon as the 2030s. This loss of sea ice represents one of the most severe positive feedbacks in the climate system, as sunlight that would otherwise be reflected by sea ice is absorbed by open ocean. It is unlikely that CO2 levels and mean temperatures can be decreased in time to prevent this loss, so restoring sea ice artificially is an imperative. Here we investigate a means for enhancing Arctic sea ice production by using wind power during the Arctic winter to pump water to the surface, where it will freeze more rapidly. We show that where appropriate devices are employed, it is possible to increase ice thickness above natural levels, by about 1 m over the course of the winter. We examine the effects this has in the Arctic climate, concluding that deployment over 10% of the Arctic, especially where ice survival is marginal, could more than reverse current trends of ice loss in the Arctic, using existing industrial capacity. We propose that winter ice thickening by wind‐powered pumps be considered and assessed as part of a multipronged strategy for restoring sea ice and arresting the strongest feedbacks in the climate system.


 

Published On

Monday, December 19, 2016

Keywords

Sector Addressed: 
Conservation / Restoration
Target Climate Changes and Impacts: 
Temperature
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy: 
Natural Resource Management / Conservation
Habitat/Biome Type: 
Terrestrial
Glacier
Climate Type: 
Polar