In a stunning bid to combat rising heat in the Mongolian capital, Ulan Bator, engineers are embarking on a bold plan to cool the city with a mammoth block of ice.
The amazing geoengineering product has never been attempted on such a scale and is being touted as a trial to see if the brainstorm of visionary scientists can actually work. If it does, it holds the promise that many of the Earth's hotspots may be cooled by a similar method. Such imaginative use of ice on a giant scale could lead to the creation of cool microclimates.
The incredible engineering project involves creating an "ice shield" in hopes that the natural cooling will effectively reduce the amount of energy consumed by air conditioners-especially those located in the high-rise buildings of the city. Scientists also see the project assisting to government to meet urban drinking water and non-urban agricultural irrigation needs.
Explaining the concept to the UK Guardian, Robin Grayson, a Mongolian-based geologist said, "Everyone is panicking about melting glaciers and icecaps, but nobody has yet found a cheap, environmentally friendly alternative. If you know how to manipulate them, naled ice shields can repair permafrost and building cool parks in cities." [Source]
Grayson believes the concept can work anywhere in the world where the range of temperatures is virtually roasting during the summer months and bitter cold during the winter. It should work in any city that has temperatures falling as low as 23 degrees to -4 degrees Fahrenheit.
Engineers hope to create what are termed "naleds"—huge slabs of very dense ice, some more than 20 feet thick. Such ice occurs naturally in certain cold climates caused by continuous water pressure. Such formations can expand as long as the pressure by freezing lakes or rivers is applied, resulting in gargantuan ice slabs resembling an inland version of the ocean's icebergs.
Thickly compressed naleds melt at a much slower rate than normal ice formations. The geoengineering project is creating artificial naleds at a cost of about one million dollars.
Thought by many countries to be a threat to railways and bridges, and a hazard to navigation, naleds might have a beneficial use if employed in the service of Mankind. The Anglo-Mongolian company spearheading the project—ECOS & EMI—intends to make naleds useful to the longer term needs of humans by using the ice to affect artificial climate change on a regional basis.
ECOS & EMI will be create the ice shield by boring holes deep into ice already formed in Mongolia's Tuul River. Then water will be redirected across the surface of the ice building layer upon layer until an artificial naled is made.