15 November 2011

Ulan Bators ‘Ice Shield’ to Influence Summer Climate

As a result of global warming Mongolia’s capital Ulan Bator suffers from unbearable hot summers caused by the so called the urban heat island effect. Mongolia’s government is about to launch a bold project to influence the summer climate in their capital as the guardian reports today. In giant blocks of ice geoengineers intend to “store” sill freezing winter temperatures that will aid to cool and water the city as it slowly melts during the hot summer months.  It will be tested if the city gets cooled through the ice in summer and how much energy-intensive air conditioning can be reduced.
Specifically, the idea of the project is to artificially create “naleds”. Naleds are thick slabs of ice that naturally can be found in far northern areas when rivers push through cracs in the surface to seep outwards during the day and then add an extra layer of ice during the night. Through this process these layered ice slabs continue to grow in thickness as long as there is enough water pressure to penetrate the surface. Due to their thickness of more than 7 metres they melt much later than regular ice.
image source

The climate manipulating project tries to recreate this process by drilling bore hole into the ice that has started to form on the Tuul river. The water will be discharged across the surface adding a new layer of ice on top. The drilling will then be repeated at regular intervals throughout the winter.
Robin Grayson, a Mongolian-based geologist argues that "if you know how to manipulate them, naled ice shields can repair permafrost and building cool parks in cities."
While naleds have served industrial applications before, as military bridges in North Korea or as platforms for drilling in Russia, the Ulan Bator climate experiment is unprecedented.
This giant project lines up with other huge climate manipulation projects like the rain control operation for the Olympics by the Beijing Weather Modification Office.