How To Keep Antarctic Glaciers From Melting? Build a Wall

Mar 18, 2024

As global warming expands, scientists are weighing a number of ambitious plans to prevent giant Antarctic glaciers from melting and pushing up sea levels by as much as 10 feet. A big rise in water levels would cause dire flooding of coastlines and islands. It would also displace hundreds of millions of people.    

The solutions to this are unique and very pricey. In fact, they'd cost billions of dollars. And experts are unsure if any will really work.  

Perhaps the most advanced of these is the so-called Seabed Curtain project. It would be one of the most massive climate protection projects ever put into place. It would involve building a series of giant curtains, or walls, hundreds of feet tall in the seabed. Its aim would be to protect two major Antarctic glaciers. They're the Thwaites and Pine Island. Warming seawater routinely laps up against them. Warming air melts glaciers. But so does warming water. It does this by rolling into the base of glaciers.  

Conceived by scientists at the University of Cambridge in the UK, as well as US-based experts, many models of the curtain will be tested this year. The trials will be performed in waters of the River Cam in eastern England. The first factor to test: the matter used in the walls.    

“We are not going to do this with a single sheet of fabric, and we are not looking at a perfect, sealing membrane,” Shaun Fitzgerald, director of Cambridge’s Center for Climate Repair, told The Guardian. “We don’t know if that will work since we are only at a very early stage in our work.” 

A final project would be decades in the making. “But we do need to start planning now,” Lapland University’s John Moore told the Observer. 

Reflect: If you were tasked with making sure a massive glacier didn’t melt, and you had an unlimited budget, what innovative solutions might you try?

GIF of glacial wall collapsing courtesy GIPHY.

Which of the following is the argument presented in this article? (Common Core RI.5.8; RI.6.8)
a. A seabed curtain could help prevent glaciers from melting.
b. Global warming is not a serious issue.
c. The Seabed Curtain project is the only solution to global warming.
d. The melting of Antarctic glaciers can be easily prevented with current technology.
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