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A Few Good Men

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Pykrete a Glacier

Lets post this again, hopefully with some comments.

If you have ever seen the show Mythbusters, you would know of a material called Pykrete. It is 10-15% sawdust mixed 85-90% water. When frozen this material takes a far longer time to melt than regular ice, it is also much tougher than ice too. What I saw was a possible short term solution to a long-term problem. Melting glaciers. What if you could stop a large glacier from melting, using this same idea? You would have to disperse the material (sand, sawdust) on the glacier in winter, preferably before a large snow storm.

America’s fastest growing glacier, Crater glacier in Mount St. Helen’s crater, is well on its way to being the lower 48’s largest glacier, and even though none of the ice pre-dates 1980, at its thickest point its over 600 feet deep. It is advancing at a rate of 50 ft a year and thickening 15 feet per year. Most of the glacier is below the average height for glaciers in Washington State, so why is it growing? Rock slides and ash. They are acting just like sawdust in Pykrete, insulating the ice and keeping it from melting. Many rock glaciers can also form below the normal height of glaciers because of this property. So, could this work, does any one have better solutions or ideas?

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Closing Statement from A Few Good Men

At least there were a few more comments. I still believe that a study should be done on this, and while this would not be the perfect or permanent solution to glaciers melting due to climate change it still merits some research. Thanks for commenting. Oh, and maybe a substitute for sawdust should be found, one that may not harm the sub-alpine/glacial ecosystem.

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    Nov 18 2012: I see...I understand your concern, however I do not share the view that we are the reason for this change or that we should commit resources in an attempt to alter the natural course of our planets systems to serve human population centers instead of over time relocating said populations to meet the changing face of Earth's geology and environment.
    ...It is become clearer in many scientific communities that we are at the end stage of this interglacial period and will over the next several hundred years, maybe sooner, begin seeing our planet enter the next glacial period for this ice-age. We do have the means and have in fact begun saving species from extinction during what may be an overwhelming climatic event before the next glaciation and beyond.

    Antarctica and the Greenland ice caps contain approx. 99 percent of the all freshwater ice of Earth. The melt-off (ablation) of the interior (landlocked) glaciers is neither unprecedented nor unusual in the longer view of our planet's climatological history.

    Perhaps we would be better off to step back, look at ourselves as a species born of this planet and re-evaluate our place in the systems of the planet instead acting on this egocentric view of controlling and bending those systems to our indomitable will. We have an enormous effect on the planet's resources and in my opinion would be much better served to consider reducing our own population to help offset that effect before changing natural systems to compensate for our abuses.
    • Nov 18 2012: George-As for the sawdust, I do not know its effects. I would think if this was ever to become feasible, a substitute for it would need to be found and one that has less of an impact on the environment.

      Daryl-You say we are not contributing to this change and that we should not contribute resources to alter these natural processes. I find it hard to believe that we are not influencing the planet simply because we are part of this planet. We are as natural as any other species and what we do or make is a natural process. As part of the natural world it is our duty, say its our responsibility to take care of our planet and make sure we as a species do not do things that would end up destroying us and other species in the process.

      Furthermore, more carbon dioxide has been put into the atmosphere in the past 300 years than ever before. (With the exceptions of some Volcanic eruptions that put ash as well as co2 into the atmosphere, causing a drastic cooling effect.) Some effects from this have to be occurring.

      As for the original idea, my main reason for thinking it was to find out if it would be feasible and cost effective and I think that in some parts of the world it could be. Whether we like it or not our world is changing and the need for solutions is there. I highly doubt that any world government would allow the reduction of its population by some measure, and I think its highly doubtful that any major population center would willingly move by itself unless faced with no other choice. I do agree however, to a certain point that we should definitely be slowing our species growth and we should be moving some of our populace centers. Its just that this will probably not happen to any large degree.
  • Nov 18 2012: Are there no problems with the sawdust?
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    Nov 17 2012: First I have ask what is the perceived "problem" with the melt-off of the glaciers? In other words why do we need to do anything about it?
    • Nov 17 2012: Well, it depends. Here in Washington most of our rivers are fed by glacial melt and snow melt. Many species of fish and salmonids depend on this for survival during the summer months. So yes glacial melt is natural and very good. But along with ablation, during the winter a healthy glacier should be accumulating as much ice as had melted off. This is not occurring anymore. With few exceptions like Crater Glacier. Salmon are already in trouble here and lack of water in the summer months could kill off entire runs in some rivers. This would not only hurt the ecosystem but the economy based on salmon here in Washington and Alaska.

      Water. Glaciers store about 75% of Earths fresh water. With glaciers diminishing across the planet, less and less of this water source will be left. In India, many fear that with the Himalayan Glaciers melting away, water for one of the worlds biggest populace will become scarce. Whether you believe climate change is occurring or not or whether man has anything to do with it. The temperature is rising worldwide. I just thought that for areas facing water shortages from melting glaciers, this might be a way to stabilize and possibly even reverse the ablation process.