How 4,000 Snow Machines Could Save The Morteratsch Glacier

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02/05/2017 17:08 | Updated 03 May 2017
DEA / S. VANNINI via Getty Images

As global temperatures have soared, Switzerland’s Morteratsch glacier has retreated – by almost 3 kilometres over the last 157 years.

Fearing the loss of the landmark glacier, locals asked Johannes Oerlemans, a scientist at Utrecht University, to come up with a solution.

Last weekend, at the European Geosciences Union, Oerlemans unveiled his grand plan – and it is, well, really quite ambitious.

According to the scientist, a layer of artificial snow just a few centimetres deep and covering a 0.5 square kilometre plateau could shield the glacier from the sun’s rays, enabling it to regain up to 800 metres of length within 20 years.

“In principle, even the snout could grow back,” Oerlemans told the audience, according to the New Scientist.

There’s only one catch; locals will need an army of snow machines – about 4,000 – to get the job done.

Locals are now funding a pilot at the foot of Diavolezzafirn, a smaller glacier, to see if the plan works in practice. 

If it does, it’s hoped that the Swiss government will provide the millions of Euros needed to realise Oerleman’s vision.

It would be a big upfront cost, but it could help secure the future of one of the region’s most popular attractions.

While Oerlemans’ project is ambitious, it pales in comparison to a plan, revealed in February, to manually refreeze the Arctic

As the polar region warms, scientists in the US say the drastic measure is the only way to stop the Arctic sea ice from disappearing altogether.

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