[ExI] Glacier Geoengineering

Tom Nowell nebathenemi at yahoo.co.uk
Sun Feb 7 11:21:51 UTC 2010

Keith's proposal relies on using a lot of organic liquids with a low vapor point. 

Keith, how are you proposing to trap the vapor, condense it and re-use it? If this process isn't highly efficient, you get two big problems:
1) you need to add a lot more liquid, which costs energy to make, adding to expense and cost
2) you have to worry about the environmental problems when the vapor condenses somewhere else. In fact, even with a tiny amount of leakage this can become a problem. I'm not sure how much of these it would take to become toxic rather than mild irritants, but in the volumes needed to freeze glaciers there is a risk of a major spill. Seeing as places with the huge glaciers like Antarctica and Greenland have coastlines with fragile polar ecosystems, I can see this being a problem.

In Kim Stanley Robinson's recent trilogy of ecothrillers (40 days of rain/ 50 degrees below/ 60 days) one of the protagonists investigates geoengineering for a presidential candidate and advises him in the last book. The scheme they use for direct lowering of sea-levels is pumping sea water on to the West Antarctic where the glaciers are highly stable, and increasing glacier coverage that way.



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