Proposal: Geo-engineered glacier control to limit sea level rise

From the European Geosciences Union and the “we can stop that glacier in its tracks, cold. Trust us.” department comes this wacky geoengineering idea. I think these folks don’t understand what the scope of engineering something like this would actually be.

Glacial engineering could limit sea-level rise, if we get our emissions under control

Targeted engineering projects to hold off glacier melting could slow down the collapse of ice sheets and limit sea-level rise, according to a new study published in the European Geosciences Union journal The Cryosphere. While an intervention similar in size to existing large civil engineering projects could only have a 30% chance of success, a larger project would have better odds of holding off ice-sheet collapse. But study authors Michael Wolovick and John Moore caution that reducing emissions still remains key to stopping climate change and its dramatic effects.

This is a crevassed ice seen on the Thwaites Ice Shelf in October 2012. CREDIT NASA/J. Yungel

“Doing geoengineering means often considering the unthinkable,” says Moore, a scientist at Beijing Normal University, China, and a professor of climate change at the University of Lapland, Finland. The term ‘geoengineering’ is usually applied to large-scale interventions to combat climate change. But instead of trying to change the entire climate, Wolovick and Moore say we could apply a more targeted approach to limit one of the most drastic consequences of climate change: sea-level rise.

Their “unthinkable” idea is glacial geoengineering: making changes to the geometry of the seafloor near glaciers that flow into the ocean, forming an ice shelf, to prevent them from melting further. Some glaciers, such as the Britain- or Florida-sized Thwaites ice stream in West Antarctica, are retreating fast. “Thwaites could easily trigger a runaway [West Antarctic] ice sheet collapse that would ultimately raise global sea level by about 3 metres,” explains Wolovick, a researcher at Princeton University’s Department of Geosciences, US. This could have dramatic effects to the millions of people living in the world’s coastal areas.

Instead of, or in addition to, limiting the effects of rising seas through traditional coastal protection, using glacier geoengineering to stop the flood at the source could be a viable option, as Wolovick and Moore show. “The most important result [of our study] is that a meaningful ice sheet intervention is broadly within the order of magnitude of plausible human achievements,” says Wolovick.

The team looked into two glacial-geoengineering designs. One idea would be to build a wall underwater to block warm water reaching an ice shelf’s base, which is very sensitive to melting. A simpler design consists of constructing artificial mounds or columns on the seafloor: they wouldn’t block warm water but could support and hold back the glacier, helping it regrow. “In either case, we were imagining very simple structures, simply piles of sand or gravel on the ocean floor,” says Wolovick.

The team ran computer models where they applied these designs to Thwaites Glacier in a warming world. Thwaites is projected to be the largest individual source of future sea-level rise and, at 80 to 100 km wide, it’s one of the widest glaciers in the world. “If [glacial geoengineering] works there then we would expect it to work on less challenging glaciers as well,” the authors write in The Cryosphere study.

The research shows that even the simpler design could slow down the rate of sea-level rise, giving more time to coastal societies to adapt to rising waters. The smallest intervention has a 30% probability of preventing a runaway collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet for the foreseeable future, according to the models. This intervention would consist of building isolated 300-metre-high mounds or columns on the seafloor using between 0.1 and 1.5 cubic kilometres of aggregate, depending on the strength of the material. This is similar to the amount of material that was excavated to build the Suez Canal in Egypt (1 cubic kilometre) or used in Dubai’s Palm Islands (0.3 cubic kilometres).

A more sophisticated project, going beyond the scale humanity has attempted so far, would have higher chances of success in avoiding a runaway ice-sheet collapse within the next 1000 years (the time the simulations run for), as well as better odds of causing the ice sheet to regain mass. A small underwater wall blocking about 50% of warm water from reaching the ice shelf base could have 70% chance of succeeding, while larger walls would be even more likely to delay or even stop ice-sheet collapse.

Despite the encouraging results, the scientists say they don’t advocate starting these ambitious projects any time soon. While the simplest design would be similar in scale to existing engineering projects, it would be built in one of Earth’s harshest environments. So, the engineering details still need to be worked out. Nonetheless, the team wanted to see whether glacial geoengineering could work in theory, and wanted to get the scientific community to think about, and improve on, the designs.

“We all understand that we have an urgent professional obligation to determine how much sea level rise society should expect, and how fast that sea level rise is likely to come. However, we would argue that there is also an obligation to try to come up with ways that society could protect itself against a rapid ice-sheet collapse,” says Wolovick.

Ice physics shows glacial geoengineering could work to hold off ice-sheet collapse, but both Wolovick and Moore are adamant that reducing greenhouse-gas emissions remains a priority in the fight against climate change. “There are dishonest elements of society that will try to use our research to argue against the necessity of emissions’ reductions. Our research does not in any way support that interpretation,” they say.

Engineering glaciers would only limit sea-level rise, while reducing emissions could also limit other harmful consequences of climate change, such as ocean acidification, floods, droughts and heat waves. In addition, the team points out that more warming would mean glacial engineering projects would become less feasible and would have lower chances of success. After all, their underwater structures might protect the bottom of the ice shelves, but wouldn’t prevent warm air from eating away the ice at the top.

“The more carbon we emit, the less likely it becomes that the ice sheets will survive in the long term at anything close to their present volume,” Wolovick concludes.


The publication at The Cryosphere

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September 20, 2018 1:33 pm

Holding off an onset of LIA type cooling in the NH might be of more benefit to humanity

Reply to  vukcevic
September 20, 2018 1:56 pm

Yes a taste of the LIA looks to be coming to N America between the 26th and 29th of this month.
Where there is likely to be the first “Arctic blast” of the season pushing down south across Canada and into the northern mid-states of the USA. Expect to see the snow extent in Canada take a big jump upwards.

Reply to  vukcevic
September 20, 2018 6:15 pm

Or not, if there are unintended consequences instead of benefits. Let’s not forget that the late Dr Stephen Schneider warned about the perils of geoengineering ….. concerning the idea of spreading soot on sea ice to stop runaway global cooling.

Reply to  Russell Cook (@questionAGW)
September 21, 2018 2:43 am


September 20, 2018 1:35 pm

Okay … we could embed cooling tubes in glaciers just like they do in skating rinks.

They experimented with a similar idea in WW2. The original idea was to use icebergs as aircraft carriers and things got carried away. link

Bryan A
Reply to  commieBob
September 20, 2018 2:29 pm

One idea would be to build a wall underwater to block warm water reaching an ice shelf’s base, which is very sensitive to melting

I always thought that warm water traveled on or near the surface and colder water lived on the bottom. How will building a Wall in Cold Waters Home prevent Warm Surface Water from paying a visit??

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Bryan A
September 20, 2018 3:40 pm

Those underwater volcanos under the Antactic ice sheet are adding heat at lower levels. Maybe that’s what they are aiming to block with their wall.

Why don’t they just plug those volcanos! I bet they didn’t even think of that.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Bryan A
September 20, 2018 4:31 pm

Is Mexico going to pay for that wall?

Reply to  Alan Tomalty
September 20, 2018 5:06 pm

Never mind who’s going to pay for it but were there any actual ‘grown up’s’ involved in the creation of this paper? Had any of them actually studied the ice history of the Holocene and previous glaciations? Sure as eggs are eggs, a new ice age cometh long before we have to worry about us drowning in melted ice. The Antarctic is going nowhere and Arctic and Greenland ice seem stubbornly indisposed to pronouncements of their imminent demise. What price to stop the ice sheets expanding, as they will do in due course without any help from us mere mortals?

Reply to  Mac
September 20, 2018 5:16 pm

Gravity seems to drag them down.

Martin Meltzer
September 20, 2018 1:39 pm

“whoopsie. We made a mistake and accidentally brought on an ice age. Gee whiz, it was all Donald Trump’s fault anyway.”

Bryan A
Reply to  Martin Meltzer
September 20, 2018 2:32 pm

Well of course it will be The Donald’s fault. If he hadn’t pulled us out of Paris, we would have squandered Billion$ on Ludacris ideas but this particular idea wouldn’t have been tried. So it was tried because Trump was in office so he must be to blame

Reply to  Martin Meltzer
September 20, 2018 4:57 pm

Consequence: Another mile thick glacier grinding through Chicago and covering Illinois and Indiana!
What is being done to actively prevent the next glaciation?

Reply to  David L. Hagen
September 20, 2018 5:12 pm

In Illonis, raise taxes; in Indiana, keep doing what you’re already doing.

Tom Halla
September 20, 2018 1:40 pm

More computer models. It’s models all the way down.

Timo Soren
Reply to  Tom Halla
September 20, 2018 3:08 pm

Well actually, at the very bottom is their arrogance that they think they are right and they sheer stupidity that we could do this.

Thwaites is about 40 miles across. A cement wall of that width and any possible height poured underwater in the Antarctic? I am not sure of the amount of cement poured in the world , ever, right now but I would be that number is close.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Timo Soren
September 20, 2018 4:58 pm

Plus it would have to be type 5 cement for the proposed underwater setting concrete. Plus, where do you get the aggregates for this type 5 cement concrete—the Andes? Absurdities piled onto absurdities by academic real world illiterates imagining unicorns. Google concrete, folks.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
September 20, 2018 7:10 pm

so far no one has caught this absurdity:

“…..says Moore, a scientist at Beijing Normal University, China”

If anyone is melting any ice….it’s them…no us

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Latitude
September 20, 2018 11:26 pm

Is it to be infered that there is a Beijing Abnormal University too?

Louis Hooffstetter
Reply to  Timo Soren
September 20, 2018 8:36 pm

Not to mention the fact that limestone & dolomite releases 44% to 47% of its’ weight as CO2 during the calcination process to make cement.

Ken Mitchell
September 20, 2018 1:42 pm

Somebody is confused; melting a FLOATING glacier won’t raise the sea level at all. It’s already displacing its mass in the water, so if it melts, nothing will happen.

If a massive LAND-supported glacier were to melt, it might raise the sea level. But I think that’s highly unlikely.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Ken Mitchell
September 20, 2018 2:04 pm

Thwaites is a grounded glacier, that is, not floating. It’s ocean part sits on the seabed and has a substantial part well above above sea level. The front edge parts break-off and float as an floating tongue ice field (see sat photo with the article) as more ice from inland pushes toward the sea part. In the winter the sea ice grows out substantially, but then mostly all melts by early March, the end of the Austral summer.

The grounding line position and the topography of the sea floor in front of and behind the grounding line are critical determinates to how the glacier will behave as the grounding line slowly recedes during the current interglacial.

What is really appalling is that most of these “scientists” refuse to acknowledge that we are in an interglacial, and glacial retreat is what happens at the timescales of of interglacials. It really only reverses and sustains a forward growth once the glacial ice age period returns (the Malinkovitch cycle).

Steve Reddish
Reply to  Ken Mitchell
September 20, 2018 2:17 pm

I think they think the only thing holding back the land supported part of the Thwaites glacier is that the floating tongue is grounded upon an underwater ridge at its seaward edge. They think if the floating tongue melts away, more ice will move into its place and then likewise melt. So, it is not not the melting of the floating tongue that worries them, but the subsequent melting of replacement ice.

However, hasn’t the time table for the worse-case melting scenario already been determined to be longer than the 1000 year span of their simulation?

And, have they considered the affect displacing up to 1.5 cubic kilometers of water, in the “smallest intervention”, would have on sea levels? How much material would be required to be the barrier wall they think would be more effective?

Sounds like they want to cause an immediate human caused sea level rise to ward off continued gradual natural rise.


Steve Reddish
Reply to  Ken Mitchell
September 20, 2018 3:27 pm

Grrr! “affect” = “effect” and “be” = “build”


September 20, 2018 2:02 pm

what maroons! Any fool can calculate a number but it takes a engineer to tell them how big of crap load that really is and then laugh at their ignorance!
Suuuuure it can be done…I gotta hear this.

I suspect they want to create a reef just off shore to ‘ground’ the ice sheet keep the floating ice sheet from floating away.
It’ll be just a s successful as a dam stopping the flow of a river, for a time…

Lee L
Reply to  rocketscientist
September 20, 2018 5:16 pm

These characters and others like them are DANGEROUS.

Now IF you believe the effect of human CO2 emissions will cause a catastrophic scenario, I think it would be a lot more effective in reducing human CO2 emissions for a LOT less money and a lot less wild assed DANGEROUS to reduce the number of human emitters globally.
Contraception is a thing we know how to do and will likely need to do anyway. Spend your money on free contraception globally and especially targeted to those populations that we know are going to explode. (India, China, Africa).

Louis Hooffstetter
Reply to  Lee L
September 20, 2018 8:42 pm

“We can stop that glacier in its tracks, cold. Trust us.”
We just need to sprinkle a little Holy Water in front of it and kill 50,000 or so “witches” (deniers).

It worked during the Little Ice Age didn’t it?

kevin kilty
September 20, 2018 2:02 pm

A more sophisticated project, going beyond the scale humanity has attempted so far, would have higher chances of success…

That would be the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The original one.

James Beaver
Reply to  kevin kilty
September 20, 2018 2:56 pm

Svend Ferdinandsen
September 20, 2018 2:05 pm

“could slow down the collapse of ice sheets ”
These people must have a very different perception of time. Collapse is normally measured in minutes, so do they imagine that the whole glacier will slide to the ocean in an hour.
When they are at it, why dont they think of stopping volcanoes?

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Svend Ferdinandsen
September 20, 2018 4:42 pm

Maybe they could lasso hurricanes? Isn’t that what Paul Bunyan did?

This geoengineering business is a dangerous madhouse invention of man to solve an imaginary problem that was created by madmen like James Hansen helped along by computer code and hardware that created imaginary scenarios of the future that projected an imaginary temperature increase which would cause imaginary climate changes and which then resulted in politicians proposing and implementing taxes on an imaginary pollutant that is in reality the basis of all life.

ABSOLUTE MADNESS. The world has gone completely insane.

nw sage
Reply to  Alan Tomalty
September 20, 2018 5:02 pm

Lasso hurricanes – no! Paul limited himself to putting chokers (remember he was a logger, not a cowboy) on tornadoes. He invented the first vacuum cleaner that way – it made a quick job of cleaning up the mess hall when they were done with breakfast.

Peta of Newark
September 20, 2018 2:05 pm

How dumb is it possible to be.
Apart from the fact that whatever engineering they use will, at some point in time, fail. At which point all that stored water/ice will set off an epic tsunami..
—-Lucky if you get 30 minutes warning whereas with ‘climate’ you get 30 years warning to get out of the way. Even a Tesla could manage that.

but, won’t the ice behind the wall keeping growing (rain & snow) and getting heavier, thus making the land underneath it sink.
We already have that confusion – is the sea rising or is the land sinking?
How do you tell.
does it matter, the effect is the same.

Who reviews this junk?

Bryan A
Reply to  Peta of Newark
September 20, 2018 2:27 pm

Dumber than a Pile of Pebbles

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Bryan A
September 20, 2018 2:50 pm

Actually, pebbles are quite smart! When you drive on a freeway on-ramp notice that all of the pebbles have moved over to the edge of the pavement where they won’t get crushed by traffic. Pebbles are smarter than your average modeler!

Hoyt Clagwell
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
September 20, 2018 3:13 pm

Indeed! If you were to watch a pebble tumble down a cliff, and model it in 3-D, you would see that the pebble was able to calculate, in real time, the path of least resistance. This is because the pebble has little to no ability to exert any motive force and therefore must conserve as much energy as possible. Clever things, pebbles.

David Wendt
September 20, 2018 2:07 pm

By most reports I have seen, Antarctica receives 6″ of water equivalent precipitation per annum. Despite all the semi-hysterical ranting about the melting Antarctic, most of that precipitation likely persists year after year. Let us suppose that 1 million years ago visiting aliens successfully introduced this system to keep ice from leaving the continent which was not entirely effective, but did keep at least one of the 6 inches from returning to the oceans. Let’s see what might have been the result of this. 1″/yr for a million yrs= 1 million inches, 5280 x 12 = 63360 inches /mile, 1million/63360 = 15.78 miles of extra w.e. accumulation or over 17 miles of ice. If the aliens were really competent and kept all 6 inches on the continent, the ice sheet would now be over 100 miles thick, doesn’t seem like a great plan to me!

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  David Wendt
September 20, 2018 2:30 pm

Maybe 6″ averaged over the whole continent, but the coastal areas receive lots more. The interior less. And we are discussing a seabed grounded glacier. A river made of ice.

Which really is all a glacier is, it is a frozen river that slowly moves downhill.

John Tillman
Reply to  David Wendt
September 20, 2018 2:50 pm

Mostly polar desert (under 200 mm or 9.8″), Antarctica averages about 6.5″ of liquid water equivalent precipitation per year, but ranges from 2 to 25 inches.

comment image

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
September 20, 2018 2:53 pm

Oops! That should be 250 mm to meet the definition of desert used for Antarctica. Where I live, the definition is eight inches, ie closer to the cited 200.

mike the morlock
Reply to  John Tillman
September 20, 2018 3:59 pm

John, Joel. Umm I had a thought, to build such barriers would take huge industrial effort. Smack dab in the immediate area of the barriers. Wouldn’t that cause a “heat island effect” and further accelerate the melting?
All the cargo ships bringing cement, sand, obtaining water. The mixers, The heated submersibles used to place the concrete. Where did I hear this before? Yup “we had to destroy the glacier to save the glacier”
Oh well


John Tillman
Reply to  mike the morlock
September 20, 2018 4:04 pm


Yet another of the impractical features of this proposal.

Same goes for cockamamie proposals for Antarctic anti-“climate change” projects.

Steven Currie
Reply to  mike the morlock
September 21, 2018 8:57 am

Mike, that’s the first thing I thought about when I read this.

honest liberty
September 20, 2018 2:07 pm

Folks, if they are discussing this as an option on the table, they are already doing it.

Dane Wiggington VINDICATED, at least regarding aerosol spraying. (the rest of his malarkey is pro CAGW and I’m disgusted about it. Possible Psy-op plant? I dunno. But I’m leaning toward the conclusion he is right about the aluminum oxide/silver oxide/barium/strontium aerosol spraying operations)
and for you nay-saying party line toters… Syphillus experiments on African populations by the US gov’t, Operation Northwoods, lobotomy practices of the Eugenicists, MKUltra LSD tests, etc etc…
This ain’t the first nor the last time factions within this foul government have experimented on unsuspecting populations.

Dr. Nick Begich from Alaska will be vindicated in similar matters regarding H.A.A.R.P. eventually as well.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  honest liberty
September 20, 2018 2:19 pm

And don’t forget this essential piece of your wardrobe honest liberty:
comment image

ray boorman
Reply to  honest liberty
September 20, 2018 2:57 pm

Liberty has hit almost all the no-no buttons that are listed in the rules for commenters, but it does give me a laugh that some people believe such bull dust.

honest liberty
Reply to  ray boorman
September 21, 2018 8:15 am

Meanwhile back in statist land, where grown adults still believe their government is there to serve them…suck up all their lies and propaganda like children waiting for santa clause.

That’s fine folks. you can live in sweet ignorant bliss and scoff at those who dare to question the status quo. I don’t need to be comfortable. I’m not 12. Enjoy your manufactured reality and keep pretending “your guys” are going to fix what statism broke.

good grief, who’s wearing the tin foil hat? I’d say you folks, who believe 2 planes can take down 3 buildings, one by FIRE alone (according to NIST). Right. Tin foil. You believe it because your mommy and daddy in the state told you so. Talk about religion. Unyielding faith in liars. Right.

Good on you. so smart. using what you think is clever ad hominem attacks.

honest liberty
Reply to  ray boorman
September 21, 2018 8:17 am

and the one that was brought down by FIRE alone, wasn’t hit by a plane.
go look at all the other WTC buildings that were absolutely demolished, massive holes through the entire structure from the top down, and yet they remained standing.

The self-delusion in you two is strong.

Lurker Pete
Reply to  honest liberty
September 22, 2018 2:23 am

@Liberty: just because you may have seen proof for one conspiracy, it doesn’t mean everything spoon fed by the has validity. You need to research everthing properly, that means researching both sides of any argument, especially those who disagree, otherwise you’ll get sucked in by confirmation bias. I had a 3 yr debate via email with a friend of mine who had listend to Dane Wiggington before he agreed he’d been taken in by confirmation bias (a big hint is that Dane makes a good living out of spoon feeding his theories). Start with Barium, (the readings were high because they took readings in a sea breeze, but do research it yourself) that was what finally convinced my friend. Proof that weather modification experiments and cloud seeding companies exisit does not mean every contrail in the sky is malevolent!

Best not to discuss it here though, subjects are not encouraged because it detracts from serious research.

September 20, 2018 2:07 pm

So, what are they going to do about the active volcanoes under the West Antarctic Ice Sheet? I think these people just proved they don’t have a clue instead of remaining silent and just having everyone suspect it.

September 20, 2018 2:08 pm

“There are dishonest elements of society that will try to use our research to argue against the necessity of emissions’ reductions. Our research does not in any way support that interpretation,” they say.
Is that not a textbook definition of projection, and then the repudiation of anything to the contrary.

Reply to  u.k.(us)
September 21, 2018 6:12 am

It is creepy that climate kooks rely so much on criminalizing those who might disagree with them.

September 20, 2018 2:09 pm

I have a great idea. Let’s burn more fossil fuels to increase atmospheric CO2 to raise global temperatures that will increase evaporation that will eventually become snow that will increase the size of glaciers.

Do I need a sarc tag?

Andy Pattullo
September 20, 2018 2:12 pm

This is just thinking small. We need more ambition. My new company “Hustla” has technology to solve this existential threat without any risk of failure while making the biosphere safe and habitable again for the reintroduction of unicorns and minotaurs – long extinct due to the adverse influences of capitalism and participatory democracy.
We have secret technology that will locally suspend the effects of gravity allowing glaciers to levitate thus reversing their downward slide toward the boiling ocean while relieving the continental plates of a great burden such that they rise making new land for our most precious celebrities to occupy in the ocean front.

All that is required is a small input of government funding – only $1-2 trillion as a start and we can make this happen as surely as Tesla on the verge of filling all of their back orders.

But wait, there’s more. Throw in another $3-4 trillion and Hustla will direct it secret patented antimatter ray at the sun thus shrinking its overall mass and reducing total solar radiation to bring the troposphere back to the ideal temperatures previously enjoyed during the balmy period of the little ice age when human society thrived in spite of plagues, famines and continuous conflict.

Reply to  Andy Pattullo
September 20, 2018 2:17 pm

I remember guys like you in public school, you made it enjoyable, keep up the good work.

Bryan A
September 20, 2018 2:24 pm

How do you spell Yahoos? Ask Jonathan Swift.
It certainly applies to anyone who thinks they can hold back the might of a Glacier with a pile of sand and or gravel.
Even Granite can’t hold back the weighted pressure of a Glacier
comment imagecomment image As indicated in these 2 images from WIKI
Granted a specially reinforced pile of Dirt and Clay and Concrete and Rebar could hold back the weight of a static source of water but that would be DAM hard to construct around a Glacier.
Then what happens when the Earthen Mounds eventually fail (as they are almost guaranteed to do) the sudden release of the Glacier mass and subsequent expedited calving would certainly cause a cataclysmic Sea Level Rise far greater than any current gradual rise that can be easily adapted to.

Joel O'Bryan
September 20, 2018 2:25 pm

These guys also probably open their kitchen refrigerator and freezer doors to cool their home.

File under: Liberal’s approaches to engineering.

September 20, 2018 2:25 pm

Did they take into account the amount of GHG the production, transport and installation of 1 cubic kilometre of aggregate would create?

Andrew Kerber
September 20, 2018 2:27 pm

Well, there is hubris. And then there is HUBRIS.

Robert of Ottawa
September 20, 2018 2:32 pm

It’s a bit late isn’t it? The sea level has already risen 300 feet since the last ice-age. Where were these smart people in the neolithic.

John Tillman
Reply to  Robert of Ottawa
September 20, 2018 2:36 pm

Closer to 400 feet:

comment image

Some even say 140 m rather than 120.

Reply to  John Tillman
September 20, 2018 3:13 pm

“Some even say 140 m rather than 120”

No. The Bab el Mandeb sill depth is 137 meters. It has never been completely dry during any glaciation (if it had the Red Sea would have desiccated).

John Tillman
Reply to  tty
September 20, 2018 4:32 pm


Didn’t know the Bab was that shallow, despite humans allegedly having crossed it during the last glaciation. Its southern end must be shallower than the northern, where the Hanish Sill bottoms out at ~160 m.

Haven’t looked a bathymetric chart of the strait for a long time.

I’ve read the estimated post-glacial sea level rise in the Celtic Sea quoted as ~125 m.

These guys say 130 m.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
September 20, 2018 4:33 pm

Of course land rebound and subsidence has to be factored in.

HD Hoese
Reply to  John Tillman
September 21, 2018 8:06 am

Interesting graph. I can testify that sea level in the northern Gulf of Mexico went up this year at a rate of over 50mm/yr. Then it disappeared (where I was standing).

From their abstract—““…with decades or more to research designs it is plausible that the scientific community could come up with a plan that is both effective and achievable.””

Similar illusion?– no telling what they would see if they really saw the sea. She sells seashells.

Kevin McNeill
September 20, 2018 2:42 pm

King Canute lives and is working in the European Geosciences Union

James Beaver
Reply to  Kevin McNeill
September 20, 2018 3:16 pm

King Canute is the guy that said “No, I don’t have the power to command the seas!” He then took his “advisors” and a bunch of other folks down to the ocean at low tide and commanded the sea to “Halt!”

They waited and lo and behold the tide came in anyway. So, Canute was the guy that DIDN’T have the hubris demonstrated by the folks at the European Geosciences Union.

Clyde Spencer
September 20, 2018 2:55 pm

“The more carbon we emit, the less likely it becomes that the ice sheets will survive in the long term at anything close to their present volume,” Wolovick concludes.

Did they calculate how much carbon dioxide will be emitted by all the diesel engines required to move an amount of aggregate equal to the Great Pyramid or Hoover/Aswan dam projects?

James Beaver
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
September 20, 2018 3:18 pm

Further, did they factor in the waste heat energy produced? Last I heard, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics hasn’t been repealed. No engine is 100% efficient.

Gary Pearse
September 20, 2018 3:03 pm

Geez, engineers certainly know a bucketload more science than scientists know engineering. Everytime geoengineering is written about, the colossal ignorance shown is stupefying.

1) The Suez canal had ~75 million m^3 excavated. A cubic km is 1.0B m^3, or 13 “Suez Canals” (anyone know how many Olympic sized swimming poolsful this is). Moreover, the Greater Winnipeg Floodway on the Red River of the North was a bigger excavation and was second only to the Panama Canal.
2) Do these guys have an inkling of the forces involved in glacial movement? Do they know the Fiords of Norway, Canada, etc are huge U shaped valleys carved from living rock by glaciers tiny in comparison to the Thwaites? Currents and storms will scour away this wall. Surely they don’t think the Thwaites will be stopped from flowing out and calving, which has nothing do do with melting. A calved block from a grounded glacier drops down and takes away the top of the wall. Preventing the melting means the tongue will move farther asea and bulldoze the wall. Sheesh.
3) Think unintended consequences – say peguins are blocked off from fishing? In a few years explorers could walk on Antarctica in their bare feet on bird down. Shouldn’t you have to ask an engineer at least before purveying this stuff. You used MODELS that weren’t made by an engineer? This engineering, hey, how hard can it be.
4) Even holding back the sea requires regular maintenance. Holding back the Thwaites…what can I say, except get the Champagne Soshulist Totes to pay for it.

Phil Brisley
September 20, 2018 3:04 pm

The raising of the TOA radiative cooling level (where the balance is found with incoming solar) to a colder level is not in question. In response to our emissions radiative physics dictates the surface must warm to re-establish equilibrium, such is the science. The issue, or debate, concerns the phenomenon’s magnitude.

So ok, there may be some effect, but given the speed of light I doubt the approach to equilibrium is retarded enough to change the climate. Apparently we’re on the eve of destruction…fire, floods, ice caps melting, sea levels rising…it’s always the same crowd promoting this nonsense, so I suppose they really do believe sea level will actually reach The Statue of Liberty’s knickers (NatGeo cover Sept 2013).

We all know there is a GHE, the issue isn’t the science, as I said that’s well understood. Where is the detached and reasoned explanation on where the science ends and the supposition begins?

I’m with Freeman Dyson, IMHO there might be some effect at night in the colder regions of the planet, such that freezing is altered a few minutes (maybe seconds) here and there….so what?

How long is this crap going to continue?

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Phil Brisley
September 21, 2018 2:07 am

It’ll stop when the current scarey story for grown-ups ends, & the new one begins!

In the late 194s-mid 1950s, we were all going to hell in a hand cart due to nuclear war & nuclear winter, didn’t happen! In the 1950s-1960s, we were all going to die due to chemical/biological warfare, didn’t happen! In the 1960s to 1970s we were going to hell in a hand-cart due to an impending Ice-Age, didn’t happen. In the 1980s to present day, we’re all going to die due to AGW, nearly 30 years on, I’m still waiting! Oh & few years ago the UK Wet Office snuck it under the radar that we could have colder than usual winters in the Northern Hemisphere, due to Sun (which has no significant effect on Earth’s climate – according to the UK Wet Office) being in shut-down mode! Meaning the thing that has no serious effect on Earth’s climate is going to do what the UK Wet Office has already told us it can’t do!

Reply to  Alan the Brit
September 21, 2018 3:24 am

Well you may not have died yet, but you will!

Andrew Cooke
September 20, 2018 3:18 pm

This is ignorant codswallop that is an embarrassment to actual engineers. Geo-engineering as a whole is a field filled with people too overcome by their brainwashing to remember the basics of what it means to be an engineer.

Here’s a word for those that read this.


Every problem has a engineering solution, but constraints limit what you can do. I shudder to contemplate just how much a project of this magnitude would cost. We might have better luck mining HE3 in Jupiter orbit, building a fission boosted fusion engine spacecraft, hit .10c and make it to some planet around Alpha Centauri before we could achieve this level of nonsense.

Reply to  Andrew Cooke
September 20, 2018 11:07 pm

An easier solution is to build a ‘B-ark’ and get these dangerous morons as far away from the Earth as possible….

Steve O
September 20, 2018 3:22 pm

“There are dishonest elements of society that will try to use our research to argue against the necessity of emissions’ reductions.”

— Oh, darn. I was about to say that we no longer need to reduce emissions because we have this brilliant glacier scheme thing that we can do. Now I can’t! I’d expose myself as a dishonest element of society.

Michael Jankowski
September 20, 2018 3:23 pm

…“We all understand that we have an urgent professional obligation to determine how much sea level rise society should expect, and how fast that sea level rise is likely to come. However, we would argue that there is also an obligation to try to come up with ways that society could protect itself against a rapid ice-sheet collapse,” says Wolovick…

Well if you can’t get the first part(s) right, why would anyone give credence to the second part?

Peter Morris
September 20, 2018 3:34 pm

This is pure crazy talk. These people need to be evaluated to make sure they’re not a danger to themselves or others.

September 20, 2018 4:05 pm

There is absolutely no shortage of Alarmists staying up day and night imagining more and more wasteful ways to spend your hard earned taxes. This, above, is a fine example of their efforts.

September 20, 2018 4:07 pm

“So, the engineering details still need to be worked out”

Indeed. This would have to be done in water with a temperature below 0 C, at a depth of several hundred meters, in complete darkness, in waters that are covered by sea-ice for most of the year, are among the stormiest in the World, and are constantly traversed by icebergs calved from the glaciers.

By the way I wonder how they intend to prevent their wall from being demolished by icebergs? Icebergs regularly gouge furrows tens of meters deep and hundreds of meters wide in the sea-bottom. This is what the sea-bottom looks like in the Amundsen Sea where the wall-building is supposed to be done:

comment image

September 20, 2018 4:11 pm

So a thousand miles of land based glacier is being held back by the grounded ice shelf. Are these fools complete idiots or what? And a pile of gravel is going to hold back billions of tons of ice piling up for hundreds of miles? Man PhD’s get dumber every year.

Reply to  Copper
September 20, 2018 6:27 pm


Now being degraded into “Piled higher and Deeper” as one respected PhD endowed researcher I know summed up the current standings of PhD’s.
The description certainly has become very applicable to the whole of the model reliant and so called “climate science” cabal.

Climate science and its almost total reliance on unprovable, unverified, assumption laden, idelogically biased models has become an outstanding and readily observed version of the Flat Earth theory and its supporting structure as defined by the “Little Old Lady” below.
Climate science and its obessive and thoroughly unhealthy and near fanatical fixation with Global Warming being the equivalent of the Flat Earth theory.

A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.
At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: “What you have told us is rubbish.
The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.”
The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, “What is the tortoise standing on?”
“You’re very clever, young man, very clever,” said the old lady. “But it’s turtles all the way down!”

M__ S__
September 20, 2018 4:22 pm

Proposals only a theorist would dream up with a straight face.

The arrogance is jaw dropping.

Robert B
September 20, 2018 4:27 pm

OK, I’m now sure that this isn’t a well intentioned scam to eke out resources for a few more centuries. Its to keep them away from poor people.

September 20, 2018 4:37 pm

Can’t stop laughing long enough to begin a fuel usage analysis.

September 20, 2018 4:51 pm

And to think that at the root bottom of a all this nonsense is a tiny trace gas. Its truly a wonderous substance this CO2 gas.

If only Trump can set up his RED and BLUR team to debate and to finally prove that CO2 is a good gas, natures fertilizer and nothing else.


September 20, 2018 4:53 pm

As a thought experiment, they have this much too complicated with logistics to be able to place 1+ cubic km of rock and sand ballast in front of the glacier to stop it sliding into the sea. Very expensive proposition. And no permanent income would be generated from this massive engineering project like what was generated from building the Suez Canal. And what would this stop, a .01 mm of sea rise? Hardly attributable
to any legitimate current problem as we know that SLR is a bit of a red herring.

But further with this engineering thought experiment…If something just had to be done that might achieve the same goal, wouldn’t it be easier to just pump -2 C ocean water in winter onto the top of the tongue of the glacier that is already grounded and add frozen ice mass to the glacier terminus so that it became a immobile lump of ice and stopped the rest of the glacier behind it from sliding into the sea? No where near as expensive to achieve the same lame result.

Reply to  Earthling2
September 20, 2018 7:40 pm

Actually that is a brilliant idea.
The idea that loose sggregate could be piled up in sufficient amounts to stop massive glaciers is unsane.
Your idea, otoh, could actually be feasible.
Ships can carry massive pumps.
Ships can be built to withstand icepack.
Pipelines can be built of sufficient size.
The freeze up issue could be worked out.
Spray it out as a must could release dnough hest, for example…

David Paul Zimmerman
September 20, 2018 5:08 pm

If we want an engineering solution to making more ice in Antarctica let’s let Tesla design a solar shield that is positioned so its shadow falls only on the south polar region. That way we still get the sun providing energy to grow food in the non polar latitudes while causing massive ice build up in Antarctica. Might want to pull all the science crews since we just engineered permanent winter for Antarctica.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  David Paul Zimmerman
September 20, 2018 6:34 pm

Make the Earth start wobbling on its axis from the altered angular momentum. Obliquity could then skyrocket in a few thousand years.

Bruce Cobb
September 20, 2018 5:21 pm

It’s so big of them to “admit” that their hairbrained expensive scheme for fighting a non-problem, by itself, can’t save the planet. They deserve a nobble for that. You know, for being such nobs.

September 20, 2018 5:24 pm

Not to change the subject, but is this a game changer? Rocket City Rednecks.

Is th8s not proof that science is just “a best guess”?

September 20, 2018 5:29 pm

As long as all they do is yak=yak-yak about it, fine.

If The They start doing anything, like collecting money for this looney tune project, they need to be locked up and left there. The more these twits talk about interfering with natural processes on this planet, the more convinced I am that they are either completely nuts or just a bunch of money-grubbing con men.

Stop them before they do some real harm, willya? Please, I’m begging you, stop them.

Steven Fraser
September 20, 2018 5:42 pm

Their approach to the situation is definitely uni-tasking, and not any fun at all. No leverage for other activities or benefits. A ‘No inspiration, no imagination, all your eggs in one basket’ thought process.

It would be far easier, and well-within existing technologies to sequester water (fresh or salt) all around the world with multiple, smaller projects with constrained objectives, manageable costs and individually maintained engineering ecosystems, while increasing the availabilility of fresh water for human populations, humidity management, recreation and other uses.

For example: There is nothing other than pumping, piping and water chilling keeping mountain ski resorts and other areas from freshwater sequestration as snow, year-round. Think ‘glacier replenishment’ if you want. All the higher elevations which are normally snow-replenished by Nature can be supplemented (augmented) this way.

While at it, give Canada and Siberia something to do with the vast wastelands normally hard-frozen in winter… snow-melt basins near nuke power plants and desal units, making managed, freshwater lakes. While you are at it, stock the warmer section (remember, nukes have waste heat) with coldwater sporting fish, oh, walleyes and muskies would be a good start.

Because you might need the fill elsewhere, dig the basins down to 500 metres. Truck some of it where you need to stabilise coastal areas or silted river areas (thinking raising of New Orleans, as an example. 10 metres ought to do it for a few centuries). If you don’t want the water fresh, then geoengineer some of the Canadian Archipelago off the map, or dredge out a section of NE Alaska, and make deeper and wider channels through the NorthWest Passage or new Alaskan deep harbors. Just remove the material down to a flat sea floor, and build up some mountains where they might be needed or useful.

Other, smaller projects that come to mind.

Fill the inland seas to sea level.

Dig out Death Valley to a uniform depth of 500 metres (and sequestering the Borax and exotic earths), and build a canal ( or a pair of 16′ siphon tubes) to the Gulf of California. Stock the new lake with Salt water sport fish, make salt at the edge, and surround it with a National Recreation Area, including saltwater fisheries, habitat research and other stuff if you want. Automagically, you get evaporation, with higher humidity there and to the east, increasing rainfall, and the FUN of fishing for Ocean fish a few miles off the shore from your hotel. IMO, should also think about having a ‘kiddie pool’ for coral research, and other saltwater stuff. A fair-sized surf basin would round out the attractions… right next to the RV park and the piers….

As long as the projects are all manageable scope, independent of each other, and have their own supporting revenue streams, there is no reason we could not begin now, if sea level rise is of any concern. While we are at it, we could also address issues of water rights inherent in the ‘uphill-downhill’ disparities that some states impose. For example, what could Colorado do with 50% more melt snow to divide between the Colorado river watershed and the Platte?

For that matter, there is nothing preventing us from just digging the oceans a bit deeper, and moving what we dig out on to existing land…

Just some thoughts….

Trevor from Ontari-owe
September 20, 2018 5:43 pm

Being a retired injuneer, I thought about a project on a similar scale when I read the WUWT article about the potential eruption of the Katla volcano in Iceland which is emitting 20 KILOTONS of CO2 every DAY.

My suggestion is that Michael Wolovick and John Moore design and build a “lid” for Katla. The lid would have a large pipe to capture all of the CO2 which would then be a feed source for carbon capture and storage. This would be ‘way more efficient than trying to take the CO2 out of normal, run-of-the-mill air, of course.

Dr. Deanster
September 20, 2018 6:11 pm

Here’s an engineering exercise that has a 100% chance of success! If they are worried about sea level rise, and all this Uber rich celebs houses flooding …… MOVE!

There …. problem solved.

Reply to  Dr. Deanster
September 21, 2018 2:44 am

But but but: before they can move, they have to sell that ultra-valuable coastal/sea-side land for a grossly inflated profit first …

September 20, 2018 6:15 pm

At least 40% of sea rise is caused by ocean expansion during warming, and about 20% more is caused by melting mountain glaciers, outside of the polar ice sheets, and most of those do not have ocean terminals.

September 20, 2018 6:31 pm

May be feasible. But it will kill off an awful lot of marine life.
Second issue, with all the known volcanoes in the area, the warm water will be trapped by the wall, melting the glacier faster.

Reply to  Peter
September 20, 2018 7:42 pm

lol, +10

Reply to  Peter
September 21, 2018 3:33 pm

Yes, +11

September 20, 2018 6:38 pm

Well, you could run refrigerator lines to freeze it and power the system with a coal plant but you might cause harm to the ozone layer in another advocacy thread.

Perhaps a billion plastic straws could be used to stabilize it.

Patrick MJD
September 20, 2018 6:41 pm

They must have been inspired by this film;

michael hart
September 20, 2018 7:05 pm

“There are dishonest elements of society that will try to use our research to argue against the necessity of emissions’ reductions. Our research does not in any way support that interpretation,” they say.

Not even ridiculous.
There are no elements of society that are going to use their research for anything at all, other than as an example of the worst.

September 20, 2018 8:07 pm

This is a non starter. Once the marine ecologists point out that the Antarctic food chain will be impacted, this proposed project will be DOA.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  otsar
September 20, 2018 11:01 pm

That sort of thing only works for mines and fracking projects.

The only way the Environmental Elite will stand against this sort of absurd project would be to mention that the construction process was also expected to tap into newly discovered coal reserves.

September 20, 2018 8:27 pm

I’m speechless…I have no speech..

Wiliam Haas
September 20, 2018 8:29 pm

But the reality is that, based on the paleoclimate record and the work done with models, the climate change we are experiencing today is caused by the sun and the oceans over which mankind has no control. Despite the hype, there is no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate and plenty of scientific rational that the climate sensitivity of CO2 is zero.

Where are they are going to get the material from and how much is the project going to cost and who is going to pay for it? They would have to get the material from the ocean floor somewhere. Adding material from dry land to the ocean floor will itself rise sea levels. They also have to make sure that their operation will not make use of fossil fuels. How long will all of this take? If they wait long enough, the next ice age will start to take hold and sea levels will start to fall as new ice sheets are formed on the continents.

September 20, 2018 8:36 pm

The Left has gone bonkers…

In 2015, NASA finally admitted Antarctic Land Ice has been INCREASING by 80~100 billion tons per year since ICESAT data became available in 1992:

Of course CAGW advocates hated this admission of reality, so they came up with a mo’ bedda study showing Antarctic Land Ice continues to….”decrease at an alarming rate”…

All evidence shows Eastern Antarctica is gaining Land Ice Mass, while Western Antarctica is losing Land Ice Mass due to volcanic activity….

Regardless, all empirical evidence show Antarctic Land Ice Mass is increasing, which explains why Sea Level Rise has been stuck at around 8″/century since the end of the LIA in 1820 (regardless of CO2 levels), and this century will be about the same.

CAGW’s insane 3 meter/Century SLR projection is pure fantasy designed to scare the aggressively ignorant Left..

In about 5 years, global temps will noticeably begin to cool as the PDO, AMO and NAO will all be in their respective 30-year cool cycles, and a 50-year Grand Solar Minimum starting from 2021, which likely add to the global cooling.

CAGW is dead.

As the PDO/AMO/NAO ocean cycles cool, Arctic Sea Ice Extents will slowly begin to recover, which is why 8 out of the past 11 years, Arctic Summer Minimums were higher than 2007… This trend will continue and to increase and slowly accelerate as ocean cycles continue to cool over the next 30+ years..

Within 5 years, CAGW will be laughed at, and inane “scientific” studies like this geo-engineering fiasco will end because they won’t pass the giggle test…

Craig from Oz
September 20, 2018 11:21 pm

“Doing geoengineering means often considering the unthinkable,” says Moore,

I am guessing that one of those ‘unthinkable’ things isn’t trying to obtain a successful professional career in the private sector.

I have also over the last few years been becoming more and more convinced that the prime purpose of higher education is to keep the unemployable somewhere safe where they can’t bugger up life for the rest of us for a few more years. Almost every word of this article simply flies in the face of reason, logic and sound engineering principles.

For example “So, the engineering details still need to be worked out.”

In other words they have absolutely not idea how to make it work. To turn their thought processes on their heads, what if I was to say we should build a self sustaining colony in orbit around Venus? It would improve long term human development, and while the engineering details still need to be worked out, I feel the scientific community needs to think about it and pay attention to my grand idea.


September 21, 2018 1:33 am

Arctic ice at minimum.
NSIDC and DMI show it to be probably near to or at minimum.
Jansen shows both extent and area have passed minimum.

September 21, 2018 2:14 am

Beijing Normal University

I think these people visit as many lunatic asylums as they can for their research.

ferd berple
September 21, 2018 4:49 am

Looking at US tide charts, there is zero evidence that the change in sea levels is related to human activity. What is happening is completely natural. The earth today is warmer than when the ice froze during the last ice age and the LIA. It hasn’t yet reached equilibrium. To stop this process you would need to geoengineer another mini ice age.

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September 21, 2018 11:01 am

It doesn’t really matter if they can’t stop the glaciers from shrinking as long as they get a couple of hundred million for a feasibility study.

Robert from oz
September 21, 2018 5:18 pm

OT but related , the seed bank is under threat from globull warming .

Not Chicken Little
September 21, 2018 6:52 pm

Hmmm…if I recall correctly, glaciers carved the Great Lakes out of the bedrock, and many thousands of other smaller lakes too. Do you suppose these scientists are ignorant of that, or, being university types, have unlimited faith in engineers to build structures that will stop them but have not actually consulted any to get some input on their ideas?

September 26, 2018 2:50 am

It’s models all the way down.

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