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Artificial Snow Could Save World’s Coasts

In theory, artificial snow could save the ice caps and limit sea level rise.  But rescuing civilization this way would sacrifice Antarctica.

West Antarctica’s Thwaites glacier faces rapid change. (Image Credit: Jim Yungel, NASA) Click to Enlarge.

German scientists have proposed a startling new way of slowing sea level rise and saving New York, Shanghai, Amsterdam, and Miami from 3.3 meters of ocean flooding − by using artificial snow.

They suggest the rising seas could be halted by turning West Antarctica, one of the last undisturbed places on Earth, into an industrial snow complex, complete with a sophisticated distribution system.

An estimated 12,000 high-performance wind turbines could be used to generate the 145 Gigawatts of power (one Gigawatt supplies the energy for about 750,000 US homes) needed to lift Antarctic ocean water to heights of, on average, 640 meters, heat it, desalinate it and then spray it over 52,000 square kilometers of the West Antarctic ice sheet in the form of artificial snow, at the rate of several hundred billion tonnes a year, for decades.

Such action could slow or halt the apparently-inevitable collapse of the ice sheet:  were this to melt entirely – and right now it is melting at the rate of 361 billion tonnes a year – the world’s oceans would rise by 3.3 meters.

“The fundamental trade-off is whether we as humanity want to sacrifice Antarctica to save the currently inhabited coastal regions and cultural heritage that we have built and are building on our shores,” said Anders Levermann of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Read more at Artificial Snow Could Save World’s Coasts

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