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Covering Swiss Glaciers with PVC Foam

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posted on Aug, 23 2005 @ 08:52 AM
Chill out, glacier
March 23, 2005

Swiss technicians are to use insulating foam to wrap up a glacier that has been shrinking under the summer sun.

Tourists ski down the ice field during winter.

Carlo Danioth, in charge of the slopes at the Andermatt resort in central Switzerland, said the Gurschen glacier was to be partially covered with 3,000 square metres of PVC foam from the beginning of May.

Confirming a report in the weekly SonntagsZeitung newspaper, Danioth said the aim was to halt the melting of the glacier, a phenomenon that has been attributed to global climate warming.

"If the trial is a success, we'll wrap the other part of the glacier too," he said.

He added that the ice-field was receding by some five metres a year.

The cost of the PCV covering, which is to be left in place during the summer season when skiers do not frequent the resort, was some 30 Swiss francs ($A33) a square metre, he said.

The initial heat shield for the glacier would therefore cost some 100,000 Swiss francs ($A110,934).

A study published last year by Zurich University estimated that the country's glaciers have lost around a fifth of their surface area over the past 15 years.

The study, carried out using satellite data, also found that the rate of ice-loss was accelerating.

A number of other Swiss ski resorts are reported to be considering similar measures.



This is absolutely crazy. What about all the other creatures that use the slopes in the summer? What about natural cycles.... oh my!

posted on Aug, 23 2005 @ 09:16 AM

Originally posted by Sri Oracle
This is absolutely crazy. What about all the other creatures that use the slopes in the summer? What about natural cycles.... oh my!

Hehe, well the only creatures that use the slopes in the summer are humans (mainly tourists). There isn't much to graze on a glacier

Anyway, its very silly indeed; what next? Wrap up the entire North Pole?!

posted on Aug, 23 2005 @ 09:44 AM
That's an amazing story. Well I suppose it makes some rational sense, trying to reflect the rays. But, I am not sure that PVC foam is the best material, hopefully they will get the results they are looking for but, my understanding is that the way glaciers work the top layer insulates and it's actually the bottom layers or the middle layers that melt and shift.

Alot of the shifting and melting comes from a natural process that is due to the mechanical properties of the water molecule at near freezing temperatures. I participated in a seminar once where a physicist took some snowflakes at slightly above freezing, and tracked their progress over time. With no additional external radiation whatsover (i.e. in the freezer) the snowflakes naturally metamorphosize into a blob over a certain period of time.

If you can imagine an entire layer of metamorphosized water crystal blobs, this is the middle layer of a glacier. Eventually the blobs act like tiny ball bearings and the whole thing shears off.

So, while the top layer will indeed block some of the sun's radiation, the ambient temperature of the area in the daytime will have an impact as well that cannot be stopped. But perhaps they can slow the melting process down somewhat.

posted on Aug, 23 2005 @ 10:14 AM
It would seem like their efforts would be on too small a scale to have much lasting effect.....still it's an interesting approach.

Not too long ago, I watched an old rerun of "In Search Of..." hosted by Leonard which they were voicing concerns of increasing ice and summer snow cover in areas of Greenland, Northern Canada, etc. I haven't a link to that program, but here I found a quote from 'experts' in the same time frame:

During the early 1970s, most climate experts came to agree that interglacial periods tended to end more abruptly than had been supposed. Many concluded that the current warm period could end in a rapid cooling, possibly even within the next few hundred years...... For all anyone could say, the next decade might start a plunge into a cataclysmic freeze, drought, or other change unprecedented in recent memory...
more here

Nimoy told of a study being done to spread some dark material ( ashes, coal, or perhaps sheets some material ) over these areas, increasing the heat so that the snow would be sure to melt during the summer!

Never did hear anything else about this idea, whether it worked, or was even carried out, at all. ( Or maybe worked toooo well??)

Now it seems all the worry has shifted the other way......

[edit on 23-8-2005 by frayed1]

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