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Refreezing the Arctic for $500 Billion Per Year Could Slow Down Global Warming

Feb 25, 2017 07:47 AM EST

A team of scientists from Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Exploration has developed a multi-billion project that could refreeze the Arctic, slowing down global warming.

The project, described in a paper published in the journal Earth's Future, uses a geoengineering technique and costs approximately $500 billion per year.

The researchers noted that their project requires 100 million tons of steel to build wind-powered pumps that will be placed in strategic areas in the Arctic. Each pump will be powered by a wind turbine with six-meter diameter blades. The researchers estimate that the wind turbine could generate enough electricity to raise water to a height of seven meters at 29.76 tons per hour.

In theory, the pump will bring waters from below the ice to the surface during winter. Due to the extremely low temperatures in the Arctic during winter, the resurfaced-water will then freeze. The process will result to a thicker ice sheet in the entire affected area, giving it a better chance of surviving in the summer.

By creating sheets of ice that could survive in summer, the project could increase the amount of the so-called "multiyear ice." The increasing summer temperature in the Arctic is preventing the "first-year ice" on becoming multiyear ice. Typically, first-year ice is just 3.28 feet thick while multiyear ice is 6.56 to 13.13 feet thick. However, the warmer summer is causing the first-year ice to melt before even reaching its maximum thickness. Additionally, the multiyear ice that comprised 50 to 60 percent of the Arctic Ocean in the 1980s has decreased in 2010, down to just 15 percent.

The budget of the project might appear to be very high for many. However, the researchers noted that their multi-billion project could save trillions in Gross Domestic Products (GDP) and countless lives. In comparison, the proposed budget is just 0.64 percent of the world's GDP and 13 percent of the current federal budget of the US.

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