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Melting glacier in Italy gets a giant thermal blanket

By Green News on 07/13/2010 – 4:00 pm PDTLeave a Comment

via MeteoLive)

In the hopes of slowing the rate
at which ice is melting in the mountains of northern Italy,
officials have begun covering one their most threatened glaciers with
insulating fabric, creating what is essentially a giant security blanket
to help keep the ice from melting in the summer heat. It may sound a
bit unusual, but tests have shown that the thermal blanket may be just
the thing to save the region’s glaciers from disappearing
completely, for the time being, at least.

Armed with nearly 970 thousand square feet of 4 millimeter thick
thermal material, workers scramble to cover the highly threatened
Presena glacier to protect it from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. With any
luck, the insulating material will reduce the amount of ice that melts from
the summer heat until it’s removed at the end of the season.


This isn’t the first time Italy has used this material to help
preserve its glaciers. Two years back, a smaller-scale test was made and
the results showed it to be quite effective. Ice covered by the
insulating material melted 60 percent less than exposed portions which
lost an average of 5 feet in thickness during the test.

The creative plan couldn’t come at a better time for the glaciers in
Italy’s province of Trento, which, like many of the world’s glaciers,
has seen dramatic
decreases in recent decades. According to BBC
Brasil, between 1993 and 2003 alone, Trento’s Presena glacier lost
as much as 39 percent of its total mass.

And the culprit? You guessed it.

“One thing is certain: The melting of glaciers occurs because of the
increase in global temperature,” Nicola Paoli, an environmental
engineer, tells BBC Brasil. “In the last four, five years, we observed
that the melting snow has doubled compared to normal rhythm.”

Unfortunately, no matter how ambitious or creative such local efforts
may be in regions of the world most effected by rising temperatures, it
is a global problem that will take an international effort to mitigate. 


More from TreeHugger:

  • Melting
    German Glacier Gets Sunscreen, Again
  • Peru
    Painting Andes White Because It Could be Cool
  • A
    Grim Future for Yosemite’s Glaciers


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