Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Steam Water Ice - Seasonal Cycles Wrapped Up


The seasons are a fundamental experience of the passage of time. There are other indicators on shorter timespan, but the seasons really give this great sense of stability, continuity and achievement - a year has passed. It is not from nothing that mostly the seasons lend themselves for the illustrations of deep feelings, such as feeling light, fresh and in love like spring or low, calm and heavy as in autumn. It also very often stands for the abstraction of a life cycle. Being born, growing up, getting old and dying, as in spring, summer, autumn and winter.
It is not as if there are better seasons or worse, but strong character associations exist as part of the culture and for cultures worldwide according to the local seasonal conditions.

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Image taken from serc.carleton.edu / On a 500 million year scale, we see the Great Ice Ages!

The UK, just had one of the snowiest winters for over thirty years. There was some covering on this HERE. A lot of people on the street start now explaining these events with the global warming. It has sunken in, that something is happening with our planet.
However cold and warm periods where always part of the overall shift beyond the seasons, on the scale of thousands of years. This time however the increase in temperature is different.
The seasonal build up and melting away of ice in the arctic and mountain regions is part of the seasonal phenomena. This way the ice works as a fresh water storage for the planet. If there is now more ice melting away than is produced during the colder month less fresh water is available during the hotter month.

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Image taken from Eiger International / IceProtector Optiforce in action, location unknown.

Several projects are now testing methods to keep the ice cool during the summer. In Switzerland special ice blankets are used to cover the ice and snow to protect it from the summer sun. However you can probably not attest them of saving the planet, but more their ski slopes, jumps and half pipes for the next season of winter tourists. Nevertheless the same technique has now been used in trials for larger scale test to tackle global warming phenomena. A produce of the sheet material is the Landolt Group based in central Switzerland.
This is how it works: “A lightweight dual-layer composite, its top layer consists of polyester to reflect ultraviolet light while the bottom, composed of polypropylene, is a polymer that is often used to block heat. Its purpose is to prevent a glacier’s top snow layer and permanent ice base from melting in the summer. At a cost of $12 million per square mile, the material has already proved successful in a small pilot in which its use on the Gurschen glacier resulted in 80% less melt than surrounding snow and ice two years in a row.” (as explained on threehugger)

It looks a bit funny, but has this poetic element to it that we were introduced to by Christo and Jeanne-Claude with their wrappings of natural and artificial features. At first when I saw the images I thought it is a joke or another Christo copying project, but it appears to be serious. Everyone seems to know about this - why hasn’t anyone told me this before?

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Image by Wolfgang Volz, taken from NYC.gov / Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1980-83

The blankets are now tested around the globe, from Europe to Aspen. Here a clip that introduces the snowtorium in Jackson WY.



Discovery Channel documents a project to use the ice blankets in Greenland to stop the ice melting away as a result of the global warming. This is for a change a real hands on solution. The climate summit in Denmark is only a few weeks in the past but the debate about the problem of global warming is already dried out. Would be nice to see more of these hands on proposals and less talking about who is responsible.
Picked up through mammoth.

1 comment:

mewmewmew said...

The publication is in the tradition of Nai publishers a truly nice designed piece and it has this surprising twist to it, it is a hardcover but in the form of a paperback, I love it.



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