Scientists in China are covering up remote glaciers under large sheets to stop them from melting due to global warming.
These are not normal or ordinary blankets, they are expensive and use an advanced geotextile which is also environment-friendly. The blanket acts as a shield between the glacier surface and the sun thereby prohibiting direct solar radiation and heat.
The notion that blankets can somehow stop the fast heating isn’t unfounded. While the surface temperature of the earth will definitely impact the rate glaciers melt, removing the sun’s direct heat will slow down the melting. The idea has been confirmed by years of long research in Switzerland.
Local population around Rhone Glacier have been trekking up since 2009 to cover the glaciers in the Southern Swiss Alps in white thermal blankets.
As for the blankets in China, scientists have used the environment-friendly geofabric to create blankets for over 500-square-metre area of Dagu. The area is a site of concern as it is one of the fast-melting glaciers in south-western China’s Sichuan Province.
Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources researchers led this project. The glacier they chose, Dagu, is a temperate glacier which means it contains liquid water as well as solid ice. It had also been melting faster than their other options.
Wang Feiteng and his team started the project last August. They have said that the rate of melting has decreased significantly since they covered the area. Wang has further urged the citizens and scientific communities to look into the fate of smaller glaciers.
As a result of human intervention, activities, industries, and global warming, glaciers have suffered a lot in the past decades.
Glaciers are a source of freshwater for rivers and faster melting would mean two things: first, faster depletion of the limited freshwater resources; second, excess water will flow into the oceans causing the sea-levels to rise and subsequent flooding of all coastal areas.