#TRVSTLOVES Preserving the Glaciers
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#TRVSTLOVES - Preserving the Glaciers

Welcome to #TRVSTLOVES. We curate news, ideas, and inspiration from across the world that demonstrate how real action can accomplish a positive social impact. This time we’re looking at the various and often unique attempts to preserve the melting glaciers.

Wrapping up the glaciers

Italian-born glaciologist Christian Casarotto has studied the evolution of the Alpine landscape for many years, so his surveys allow him to witness the glaciers melting firsthand. Casarotto measures the health of a glacier by its “mass balance,” which is the difference between newly formed ice versus the melting of existing ice. 

According to Casarotto, many glaciers have not seen an increase in mass balance since the 1980s. The problem is only set to continue, so unprecedented action to slow down their demise is essential. And by unprecedented, we mean unexpected. Initially not taken seriously at all, parts of the Presena glacier (in the ski resort of Passo Tonale) are literally wrapped in sheets to keep away the sun's heat.

The geotextile sheets will cover around a million square meters of the glacier, and as they roll out the concept, people are starting to take it a little more seriously. The material is made by Austrian TenCate Geosynthetics, who produce highly versatile materials that aim to solve some of the large-scale problems we are facing today, such as drainage, erosion control, waste containment, and road stabilization; if you want to learn more, then some of their case studies are well worth a read.

Preserving history

(video in French)

Referred to as “fragile archives,” the Fondation Didier et Martine Primat collects and preserves the memory of endangered glaciers. The work is carried out in collaboration with Ice Memory; if you’re interested, check out their informative video covering many aspects of their safeguarding practices. The project plans to collect ice cores from more than 20 endangered glaciers over the next few decades, with Russia and Tanzania cited as priorities.

We’re all aware that the melting of the glaciers is catastrophic from an environmental point of view, but the associations and links with the past are probably a little less acknowledged. So much history and information about times gone by sits frozen in time in these icy tombs. We were curious to know more about the amazing things uncovered as the glaciers melt, and it turns out they’re pretty extraordinary, for example, the 1000-year-old forest in Alaska, an iron age horse in Norway, and a number of mummified bodies from the medieval period in Siberia. 

Charities working to preserve the glaciers

Photo Credit: Alpine Glacier Project

As you might expect, there are a number of charities out there set up to preserve the glaciers, like the Alpine Glacier Project, which holds the “longest, most detailed record of Alpine meltwater quality in existence.” Data collection takes place in Switzerland, and this knowledge is used to help research, educate and conserve. 

There’s also The Glacier National Park Conservancy over in Montana. They’re doing some great things to preserve and protect glaciers for future generations. They offer ways to give and contribute, and their packed website is full of information. While it may seem fairly obvious, a well-laid-out, engaging, and informative website is a great way to educate visitors and encourage interest. 

The foundation has a number of specific projects set to continue in 2022, including ranger-led education programs and native plant preservation through youth engagement. They also help to raise awareness with events like the 2021 Glacier Photo Contest and the 6-day charitable cycling event “Glacier Ride.” This particular cycling event has become well known; it’s labeled the number one bucket list event by Bicycling Magazine, so clearly, their efforts to raise awareness are being recognized. 

The “glass shield”

Artic Ice
Photo by Tanya Grypachevskaya on Unsplash

When it comes to tackling climate change, we often see a number of unconventional and unprecedented methods being brought to the table, and this attempt at saving the arctic sea ice is no exception. 

When the glaciers melt, the mirrored, bright surface of the ice no longer reflects the heat of the sun. Instead, it absorbs the heat, which raises the temperature, and a loop of continuous warming is created, which is difficult to break. The Arctic Ice Project wants to break this loop and has proposed “a thin layer of reflective glass powder over parts of the Arctic,” which will encourage heat to be reflected rather than absorbed. Technology Readiness is currently at Level 3 (of 8), so the concept is moving forward. 

The “glass shield” material is primarily made from silicon dioxide, which is an abundant material, and the solution is set to give us 15 more years to solve the source of the problem. As we reach critical crisis points, proposals to delay global warming may not provide us with the ultimate solution but will bestow us with much-needed extra time while the world grapples for direction. 

Project Pressure

We thought we’d finish off with something slightly different, the very impressive Project Pressure, a charity helping us visualize the climate crisis and the increasingly unstable environment. The charity focuses on glaciers since they melt over a period of time, providing an element of measure and change that can be reflected visually.

Project Pressure wants to use art to engage and inspire others into action; new technological strategies are developed with partners like the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) and NASA.

It’s well worth taking some time to look through Project Pressure’s artists. Here, you’ll find some absolutely stunning yet unsettling images of erosion, meltwater runoffs, and uncovered history, which are only now revealed in the melting glaciers.  Imagery is indeed incredibly effective when it comes to climate change. Often it packs a much stronger punch than stats and data. It can also be used effectively by policymakers, scientists, practitioners, and charitable organizations alike to help support campaigns and relative efforts.

Sam produces our regular #TRVSTLOVES where she seeks out inspiration, news, and ideas from across the globe that both highlight and celebrate how actions can make for social and environmental change.

Sam is passionate about seeking out small businesses that are implementing remarkable and exciting projects to tackle the climate crisis; she enjoys exploring how their innovation will help change the future of our world.
A degree in English Literature from the University of Southampton has given Sam the research expertise to share and contextualize stories around innovative projects, legislation, and changemakers.

Photo by Mike Swigunski on Unsplash
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