Fake 'glaciers' grown to combat big melt

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An entrepreneurial German physicist has created artificial "glaciers" in the Black Forest with the aim of boosting Alpine tourism and providing water supplies in the age of climate change.

 

A team led by Eduard Heindl, a professor in e-business at Furtwangen University and also a doctor of physics, has managed to make two sheets of ice about two metres thick and covering 1,000 square metres at about 850 metres elevation.

 

Using sprinkler systems that pump water from nearby springs, Heindl says he has proved in principle that artificial glaciers can be grown at a low cost.

 

546 words remaining. Click to read the full article.

 

Note: Comments posted below will also be published on The Local.

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Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest. As the Alpine glaciers disappear, so does a major water source for central Europe.

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As the Alpine glaciers disappear, so does a major water source for central Europe.

 

Errr, so we use sprinklers to grow glaciers from which we can get water? Excuse me, but I might have a better idea.

 

Can't talk now, off to patent my "fan powered wind farm"

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TFL, exactly. :)

 

I was confused by this quote in the article: "We’ve found that the ice takes four times as long to melt at 10 degrees as it took to freeze at -10 degrees. That was enough to tell us that this idea works." Now I have a phd in chemistry, but I can't follow the logic here...anyone know what this means?!

 

On that note, I'm off to cure my hangover with a beer. :)

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There's no shortage of water in the winter. It's in the peak of the summer that there's a shortage of water, which is precisely when the glaciers are giving off the most water. They basically act as enormous reservoirs, filling up in the winter and releasing water in the summer when it's needed. This explanation should also cover andyandy's query about freezing/melting times.

 

I'm not saying that this idea will work, but I can see where the logic is coming from.

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Sure, but they are minuscule compared to the vast amounts of water stored in Alpine glaciers and ice sheets. In the medium to long-term, we will however have to build lots and lots of new (human) reservoirs.

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I think someone in this conversation might have more of an idea of what they're talking about than others. Won't say who mind you, but I'm just saying.

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I've fully embraced this concept and have been pouring thin layer after thin layer of beer on my balcony all evening. Come summer when it's time to BBQ I should be swimmin' in the stuff.

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Oh my oh my, now that is simply sacrilege.. You will be swimming in the stuff, but the quality of the stuff of which you shall be swimming in?

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reservoirs also act like enormous reservoirs

 

The idea is to make artificial glaciers in the winter by using the natural cold temperatures to freeze the water more efficiently (using a sprinkler system you build up layers of solid ice whereas when a reservoir freezes, the first formed ice floats, insulating the water beneath which doesn't freeze) so you don't get a solid ice block).

 

Reservoirs lose water as the energy (heat) from the sun evaporates it. It takes more energy to evaporate ice because it "uses up" some of the heat energy for the solid to liquid phase change (melting the ice) before it can evaporate it

 

So a totally frozen reservoir would take much longer to evaporate than a reservoir with just a covering of ice on top. So if you can freeze it for free or close ot free, then it's worth the effort.

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A reservoir also has to be constructed with dams and whatnot to hold the water in, (and defend itself against bouncing bombs dreamt up by boffins). Wheras a glacier will hopefully just stick to the side of the valley, all by itself.

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And, on top of all that, you need glaciers to feed the reservoirs in the first place. The Isar, for example, would be close to bone dry in the summer if there were no glaciers.

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So if you can freeze it for free or close ot free, then it's worth the effort.

 

Agreed, if it were free, then it would be great. But it isn't. You continually have to pump water up to the top of a mountain, unlike a reservoir dam, which you only have to build once.

 

Actually, pumping water up a mountain isn't necessarily bad... many places do it, because its a good way to store water and energy which can later be reclaimed through hydropower stations. That second advantage is totally lost when the water is frozen in glacier form.

 

In the end, as the article says, it's neat but has no useful application in the real world other than publicity for the professor, and increasing TT pageview count :)

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That second advantage is totally lost when the water is frozen in glacier form.

 

Er, what about when it melts again?

 

Anyway, glacial reservoirs and human reservoirs aren't mutually exclusive, as one feeds the other.

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Er, what about when it melts again?

Hydro power is proportional to the pressure of water behind the dam. Water trickling out of a glacier is not under pressure, as the glacier is just frozen and lying on land. So glacial runoff would be useless as a power source.

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Er, what about when it melts again?

 

Anyway, glacial reservoirs and human reservoirs aren't mutually exclusive, as one feeds the other.

 

a human reservoir?? has this something to do with Soylent Green?

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