Innovations That Matter

Scientists setting up silicon beads on the ice | Photo source Ice911

Glass beads that may slow Arctic melting


A group of US scientists has developed a plan to use silicon beads to deflect heat and foster new ice growth in the Arctic.

Spotted: US-based geo-engineering nonprofit Ice911 Research wants to save the Arctic by spreading silica beads over polar sea ice. The scientists believe the beads will reflect heat from the sun and create new ice.

The silica beads will reflect the sun, reducing the amount of heat sea ice absorbs. That, in turn, will reduce melting and would also, the group says, foster the creation of new ice

Ice911 Research proposes using hollow silica beads — each one 35 micrometres in diameter — to coat the surface of the sea. The size would prevent them from harming wildlife; the beads have already been tested on minnows and birds and no harm was observed.

The group has successfully tested the silica beads on ice-covered lakes in the Sierra Nevada mountains, Minnesota, and Alaska. Now they are looking for a place to test the project in the Arctic and to raise funds to hold the test. Ice911 Research estimates it will need to cover 15449 square km of territory, which will require more than double the amount of glass material the world currently produces. It will cost an estimated €270 million. 




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