Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Project Earth - Wrapping Greenland

Project Earth, episode two Wrapping Greenland, the premise of the second episode is to see if wrapping glaciers in geotextile blankets.

The project earth team tests their theory on a glacier located in Greenland. The team believes that if glaciers are wrapped in blankets, the blankets will insulate the ice from melting.

The blankets using special synthetic geotextile materials are expected to help reflect the sun's rays during the summer melting season.

Although the idea is pretty good, the costs sound unreasonable. The costs for these materials will average about 12 million dollars per square mile. How valuable is fresh water to you? How valuable will fresh water be in 50 years?

Wrapping Greenland will premiere on the Discovery Channel on August 22nd, at 10:00 pm EST, immediately following Engineering the Future.

Updates from the show Wrapping Greenland: The Project Earth team decided on instead of wrapping the entire island of Greenland, they focused on local melting points. The team compared the melt with a bowl of ice cream. The ice cream stays frozen in the center; however, the sides are the places where it melts. The team will focus on only covering two acres around a melt lake near the edge of Greenland's ice line.

Materials that were included are the same white tarps used in the alps on Austrian glaciers and bamboo. Metal was tested to hold the sheets down but the metal conducted heat. Plastic was also considered however it was proven to be too brittle. Bamboo is renewable resource and it is very environmentally friendly.

The results of the test actually proved to be much better than expected. The two acres of material saved and compressed ice by two feet. The material saved 5000 tons of ice from melting.

If this test was ramped up to full scale where it covered all of Greenland it would cost $400 billion for 771 million blankets. In order to move all of these tarps, the team would need 31 million helicopter transports costing $186 billion. On top of the $586 billion dollars on just materials and transportation, the wages of the people working on these tarps is not even factored in. Aside from costs, covering glaciers in a large scale will in fact out weigh its carbon footprint.

Even though it seems that it works; currently, it is only feasible for small scale deployments. Covering glaciers with blankets should only be considered for glaciers used for drinking water.

Covering glaciers with tarps seems only to tackle the effects of global warming, perhaps we should focus more on the cause.

5 comments: said...

project idea take the blankes and make parachute style floaters with weights. like lily pads in a pond.
To freeze the water in the lake to stop the drain. make it like a compact barrel drop in water use air ballast tubing to inflate a floating ring with air and a weaight to sink to hold in place..?

Mikesurf said...

Nice try, but this is not a solution, but delay of execution. The problem is globalwarming and CO2 related. Trees solve this. Plant trees, save the world. Visit and please take a second to be convinced. thanks. Mark Hoff , NL

Anonymous said...

How would this even work? As soon as it snows, the blankets will effectively be gone, buried. You would need to re-"wallpaper" after each heavy snowfall!

Chris G said...

intead of using helicopter to transport equipment why not set up a cable car or ski lift type system to carry it up. obvioulsly it only be vaible if the project was on a much larger scale.

Chris G said...

how about usin those big rollers that flatten tarmac to compress the new snowfall which would make it turn to ice before it can melt and run away into those lakes.