Climate Engineering Proposal of the Day

Freeman Dyson waxes imaginative in the NYRB:

Snow-dumping in East Antarctica would be a good way to stop sea levels from rising… East Antarctica is much colder and larger than Greenland and West Antarctica, and the ice cap on East Antarctica is not in danger of melting. A permanent high-pressure anticyclone over East Antarctica keeps the air over the continent dry and the snowfall meager. The same anticyclone keeps a strong westerly flow of moist air circling around the southern ocean.

To dump snow onto East Antarctica, we must move the center of the anticyclone from the center to the edge of the continent. This could be done by deploying a giant array of tethered kites or balloons so as to block the westerly flow on one side only. The blockage would cause a local rise of atmospheric pressure. The center of the anticyclone would move toward the blockage, and a fraction of the circulating westerly winds on the opposite side of Antarctica would move from the ocean onto the continent. The kites or balloons might also be used to generate massive quantities of electric power for use in other projects of planetary engineering. With or without electric generators, the onshore flow of moist air at a rate of a few kilometers per hour would produce an average snowfall equivalent to a few meters of ice per year over East Antarctica. All the ice added to the continent would be subtracted from the ocean. This would be enough snowfall to counteract the sea-level rise produced by a complete meltdown of Greenland and West Antarctica in two hundred years. Year by year, we could raise or lower the kites and adjust the flow of moist air across the continent so as to hold sea levels accurately constant.

Even Dyson admits that this idea is "fanciful". But I do wonder whether, once the balloons have been installed and are viewable from space, their different colors won’t spell out the Google logo.

(Via Thoma)

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