In the most recent issue of Sierra magazine (January-February 2010), in the “Last Words” column at the very back, there’s a picture of employees at an Austrian ski resort unrolling a blanket over Brunnenkogel glacier to reduce melting.
I assume the picture was taken in the summer rather than during ski season, especially since one of the workers is wearing short sleeves.
Below the picture is this quote from Václav Klaus, president of the Czech republic: “Global warming is a false myth and every serious person and scientist says so.”
Thanks to Todd, who brought this to my attention after reading this quote from my post, “Geoengineering: Good or Bad?”
At the moment no-one is taking greenhouses gases out of the air and no-one is trying to reflect back solar radiation. If we were to do either of these they would develop into billions of tonnes of gases per year or thousands of square miles of reflective devices. That equates to probably millions not thousands of jobs worldwide.
(From “Can Cloud Ships and Space Sun Shades Fix the Planet?” CNN Eco Solutions, 11/3/2009)
There’s no indication in the Sierra article whether this method has worked in the past. My first thought was, “A blanket on a glacier is going to make it warmer, not cooler.” But perhaps the blankets used by European ski resorts are reflective enough that they will succeed in keeping the glacier intact.
A quick search for “blankets on glaciers” turned up some articles from 2007, including “Duct Tape Methods” from the Popular Science website. According to that article, the method does work.
It’s one thing to blanket a few glaciers, though, and quite another to blanket the Arctic ice in the summer. I wonder how animals that live in the Arctic would react to the blankets?
For the method to work at all over larger areas, we’d need to select some areas for experimentation, to see if reducing melt in one area also reduced melt in uncovered areas around the blanket.