Architects propose design for submarine to produce icebergs in Arctic

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Iceberg in the Arctic
Iceberg in the Arctic with its underside exposed. (Credits - Wikimedia Commons)

Although it might sound crazy, architects have proposed the design for a submarine which produces icebergs in an attempt to restore the ice caps of Arctic. The team aims to form new glaciers in this technique by bringing together a swift of these vessels that will eventually help to balance arctic eco-system.

Recently, an international contest conducted by the Association of Siamese Architects awarded a second prize to the revolutionary proposal. It is yet to be checked if the idea can be practically implemented.

The Arctic Ocean has lost 95 percent of its oldest ice over the last three decades. This intense melting in association with global warming has created an ecological imbalance in the Arctic. It has damaged the natural food chain of the Arctic forcing fish, seals, wolves, polar bears into ever lesser regions. The team hopes to help the Arctic through their prototype inspired by the similar lines of re-forestation resulting in ‘re-iceberg-isation’ in the Arctic.

The submarine would function by re-freezing Arctic marine water into hexagon-shaped icebergs, each about 2,027 cubic meters (535,477 gallons) eventually gathering together to form new ice floes. The floating submarine would extract some of the salt from the collected marine water in a tank using a method of reverse osmosis making freezing easier. The left-over seawater would be frozen into a hexagon-shape iceberg and released back into the ocean after a month by the use of air turbines.

Group member and Indonesian designer Faris Rajak Kotahatuhaha mentioned the primary objective is to recover the arctic ecosystem which impacts the global climate. It does not control the emissions but it could help ensure affluent habitats and hunting stage. The size of the design would have to be enormous in order to actually avoid further sea-level rise as claimed in a video for the new prototype by the architects.

The actual risk of sea-level rise is not the melting icebergs as they are already floating in the ocean but the melting land ice which flows into the ocean. The newly created icebergs would have to somehow end up on land to make an impact. The newly formed icebergs protect ocean water by reflecting Sun’s energy and blocking absorption but to make a big influence, they need to cover a large area of the arctic ocean.

Atmospheric scientist Michael Mann commented that the model is like attempting to save sandcastle from the waves using a paper cup. There are various questions apart from sea-level about the powering of the submarine and whether adequate wind energy can be collected to freeze their huge swallows of water. It is also to be seen if these vessels are powered by renewable energy. Even now our best solution to control the rise of sea levels is to reduce the emissions.

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