This means that at the end of summer there will be no sea ice left in the Arctic, and the total area of sea ice drops to less than 1 million square kilometers. It is difficult to determine when this last happened, but researchers estimate that it happened thousands of years ago. If we continue to damage the climate in the same way, a blue ocean event is expected to occur by the end of this decade. Experts say it would be catastrophic, not only because it would cause sea levels to rise dramatically, but also because global temperatures would rise dramatically.
It is therefore essential to preserve as much Arctic sea ice as possible. This could be achieved by reducing human emissions of carbon dioxide, which would slow the rise in global temperatures and ensure that the polar ice caps melt less quickly. But it’s also possible to do it more directly, according to a Welsh startup called Real Ice. That is, by the “growth” of sea ice.
Sprinkle ice caps
Researchers at Bangor University are experimenting with pumping cold seawater and spraying that water onto the ice caps. This removes the layer of snow that accumulates on the ice during the winter months, ensuring that the ice does not grow larger. Without snow, the sprayed seawater can freeze into ice, increasing the volume of the cover. According to the Real Ice website, the thickness of the ice caps could increase by up to 70 centimeters thanks to the spraying of seawater. By comparison, under current conditions, sea ice is shrinking by about 6 centimeters each year.
Restore the 80s
Against a sieve
Real Ice CEO Andrea Ciccolini says his minimum goal is to maintain the current state of the sea ice. He added: “By the end of the summer, the area will be about 4 million square kilometers. If we can, we would like to return it to what it was in the 1980s, when sea ice covered more than 7 million square kilometers.
Previously, Change Inc has already written about Delft Arctic Reflections, which is running a pilot in Spitsbergen with a similar approach. “The potential impact of this is so great that it would be strange not to try to make it happen, given the climate risks you can reduce with it,” the company’s founder, Foenger Yepma, said at the time.
Both Real Ice and Artic Reflections want to increase the ice surface. Real Ice wants to do this using underwater drones. Private unmanned submarines are loaded onto floating rafts with green hydrogen (hydrogen produced with renewable energy), and then travel to areas with sea ice and dive under covers there. Then they drill a hole in the ice from below and start spraying cold seawater over the lid from there. Additionally, when the growth process is complete and the summer months arrive again, drones can restore the layer of snow that was previously present on the ice. This protects the polar ice caps from solar radiation.