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Researchers come up with $50 billion plan to stop Doomsday glacier from melting

Published Mar 7th, 2024 6:44PM EST
glacier meeting the ocean
Image: Natalia / Adobe

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Scientists have come up with yet another radical climate change plan that they hope will save us from one of the most immediate catastrophic scenarios presented to us by global warming. The plan centers around the “doomsday glacier,” or the Thwaites glacier, which could raise sea levels exponentially if it melts.

The reason that the glacier is referred to as the doomsday glacier is because it currently acts as a shield for other glaciers found in the colder parts of our world. So, if it melts and collapses, the warmer waters responsible for slowly melting it would be able to reach other glaciers, leading to more melting and rising sea levels.

Scientists estimate that a collapse of the doomsday glacier could cause a cascade of melting that raises sea levels by up to ten feet, or three meters. This would essentially flood our coastlines and bury several major cities underwater. This new climate change plan, though, could at least slow things down.

The radical new idea isn’t going to be cheap, though, but it all centers around using underwater curtains to help curb the flow of warmer seawater currently reaching the Thwaites glacier. The curtains would stretch 62 miles along the bottom of the seabed, and John Moore, the glaciologist and geoengineering researcher behind the idea, says it could actually work.

There’s just one big problem: he’s going to need $50 billion to make it happen.

Moore previously suggested a similar idea that involved building a massive wall to block warm water from getting to the glacier. However, his new climate change plan would be better because you could remove the curtains more easily if something happened, and it had a negative effect on the local environment. Moore says that any “intervention” into the natural world should have a way to revert if something goes wrong.

Moore currently plans to slowly build up his prototypes until he can prove the success of the plan. To start, he and other researchers will be testing a set of 33-foot-long curtains in the Norwegian fjord in roughly two years. If things go well from there, perhaps Moore can talk some of the biggest nations in the world into funding his $50 billion plan.

Moore says the plan sounds expensive, but it actually isn’t when you compare the estimated costs of coastal defenses for rising sea levels, which is expected to be $50 billion per year per meter of sea level rise (via Business Insider).

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.