By: Molly McKeon
Summary: Climate change has affected many areas of Earth. Many of these effects can be linked back to the melting of our Arctic Ice. There is a positive feedback loop in the Arctic that is classified as the worst positive feedback loop in the world. The melting of the Arctic sea ice has increased much faster than can accumulate. This could mean disaster for our planet as the ice is a key part in Earth’s albedo. Without the sea ice, the Earth is affected by much more UV light than in previous years. These effects cause other effects like temperatures climbing, oceans warming, and much more. The feedback loop must either be broken or slowed down to a more manageable state that would allow testing of environmentally friendly solutions to the problem; overall, we can not keep these greenhouse gases in further concentrations and expect something like this to be a fix. It must be a solution in the long run as we look to changing lifestyles and habits to an eco-friendlier situation for not only ourselves, but future generations also. Geoengineering has come a long way over the years. The first geoengineers were looked at poorly as geoengineering was viewed as an unnatural process. As time has gone on and we have done irreversible damage to the planet, geoengineers have been relied on to find fixes or solutions to problems long-standing. Fixing the ozone layer, stopping the sea ice melt and many more environmental problems are looked at by geoengineers. Sea ice melt is one of the largest problems needing to be addressed. Many approaches are being looked at in effectiveness and sustainability. Some may be methods to slow the process down to find a better way to go about fixing the issues and some are trying to be the permanent solution to the problem.
Why we should care? We should care about this because of the effects of the positive feedback loop. Climate change has created the worst positive feedback loop from the melting of the ice.
The article speaks about using tiny, fine particles of glass powder to spread across ice as a reflective, protective layer to help ice formation. This could help during the summer months to protect the Arctic against the Sun’s rays. The summer months in the Arctic are particularly brutal because the days are so long. Being able to have an extra protective layer of this glass powder could help the ice that was newly formed in winter last longer in duration than without the glass. Dr. Field wants to use this only in highly susceptible areas where the ice melts the fastest. The beads float in water, but the affects on diatom, algal and plankton populations are unknown and need testing. Bottom-Up effects on the food web will be unknown until further testing has been done. There is also a chance that if the beads did sink, copepods would devour them and we would have another contributing microplastics issue.
Science in Action.
Dr. Steven Desch is a Professor of Astrophysics in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University.
Dr. Steven Desch has worked with NASA on other planets and moon’s geochemical cycles. He has used his knowledge to expand and look at Earth in the same way. His use of interdisciplinary studies and willingness to look at climate change in a new view will help give a new perspective to the situation. His plan to help produce more sea ice is to use wind power to bring cool water up to the surface so it can freeze the sea ice quicker. His study has shown that the process can increase the ice over 1m thick, which is not found in nature normally. Dr. Desch has a Ted talk you can find on YouTube where he speaks about his work on Arctic Ice Management and his plans on how to address the situation.