Our reflective sand is made from silicon dioxide, otherwise known as silica, which comes from the element silicon. Silicon is the main constituent of 95% of rocks on earth, and 2.8 billion megatons of it is present in the ocean as dissolved silica. Ice911's material could eventually dissolve to become a part of this 2.8 billion million (that's not a spelling mistake) tonnes in the ocean, feeding the natural silica cycle that so many organisms depend on.
First thing's first, we have no plans to cover all Arctic ice with our material. A solution can only be effective if it has an outsize impact, meaning you apply material in a key area to make a larger or global impact. An at-scale deployment of Ice911's material would focus on key areas of the Arctic that regulate ice dynamics and global weather stability.
3. A path we already know
Ice911's solution aims to increase reflectivity in areas of the Arctic where there used to be highly-reflective ice. We already know how the climate behaves with more ice in the Arctic from the days before it lost 75% of its volume, and would therefore be walking back along a path we already know.
4. Minimal material
The amount of reflective sand Ice911 proposes to disperse on sea ice is orders of magnitude smaller than what's currently put in the ocean each year by both natural and human sources. About 246.3 billion tonnes of silica is added to the ocean per year from natural sources (80% of which come from river sediments) --Ice911 hopes to add less than 1 million tonnes to that number or 0.000004% of what is already added naturally every year. From human sources, about 500 million tonnes of deleterious waste is added to the ocean per year, which is of great environmental concern. Our material is not waste, and simply serves as a negligible addition to the global silica cycle.
Because Ice911's solution focuses on deploying material in and brightening a specific area of sea ice, one can go back to reverse this if any consequences arise. The localized and reversible nature of Ice911's solution means that it can be scaled up or down in gentle steps, allowing an iterative process to fine tune its benefits. This process would be informed by insights from climate modeling and high-tech site monitoring both by satellite and buoy.
Some proposed climate solutions cannot be stopped or temperatures will return to what they were before the intervention (and potentially higher). Ice911's solution is consciously designed to avoid this problem by focusing on ice restoration rather than cooling specifically. Mid-latitude climate stability and temperatures can be generally correlated with the amount of ice in the Arctic; and by restoring ice year-over-year (thus cooling the Arctic), the Arctic will begin to form more ice on its own. The goal is to get Arctic ice formation to be self-sustaining once again, not to have to deploy material in perpetuity.
Our solution has a targeted deployment cost of less than $1 billion dollars, far less than any other solutions proposed while remaining equally or more effective. To put this in perspective, just one week of the Nor'easter storms caused by Arctic ice loss, caused over $3 billion in economic losses; while the cost of the California wildfires in 2017, caused by dry conditions and precipitation changes aggravated by ice loss, cost the U.S. economy an estimated $85 billion. A deployment of Ice911's material in a strategic location of the Arctic could act as insurance against these high cost, high distress weather events.
Ice911's solution would employ ships to disperse the material in the targeted area at the beginning of the season, when ice is just beginning to form and water is still navigable. We deliberately avoid the use airplanes because this method is carbon intensive, possibly negating the positive impacts of the solution, and causing great economic disruption by tying up key airports to fly some of the largest planes in the world multiple times per day, 365 days per year.
An Ice911 ship fleet, in contrast, would be able to take the material straight from the port at the point of production directly to the Arctic for dispersal without intermediate steps. Once the ships disperse the material, the fleet would be available to save ice in other vulnerable regions.
9. High-tech monitoring
When working in a harsh environment, you need equipment that can withstand the conditions and data sets comprehensive enough to get results. Ice911 not only makes its own Arctic test site monitoring buoys, but it buys and tests other manufacturers' buoys side-by-side at its test sites to ensure integrity of its data. What's more, we're adding a new type of satellite monitoring, Sonic Aperture Radar (SAR), that can see through the often overcast or stormy conditions in the Arctic and provide invaluable data on reflectivity differences from above where material is deployed.
10. Careful & Iterative
Ice911's process is three-fold: model, deploy, and monitor. First, we model key leverage areas where the material can have the greatest impact on ice formation and climate stability. Next, we would get permission and deploy in the area(s) highlighted by climate modeling like the Beaufort Gyre or Fram Strait. Lastly, we monitor the area where material is deployed with our own and other manufacturers' state-of-the-art monitoring buoys and satellite imaging. That way, we have the strongest data set on efficacy and impact to make modifications the next year, if necessary.