What is the goal of Ice911?
Our goal is to slow climate change by protecting arctic ice with eco-friendly materials that reflect away the sun’s heat. NASA has confirmed that our “bright ice” materials dramatically reduce the rate of melting in field tests. When ice lasts longer, the Arctic stays cooler than otherwise, and so does the planet. We think of our approach as emergency first aid, buying the world time to carry out long-term solutions to keep our planet habitable.
Why is it urgent?
The most reflective type of ice in the Arctic—multiyear ice that survives arctic summers—has melted with shocking speed over the last few decades as the poles warm even faster than the rest of the planet. As the climate-stabilizing ice cap disappears, freshly exposed parts of the Arctic Ocean soak in heat from the sun, accelerating local ice melt and global temperature increases. Lost ice has already contributed to one-third of the global rise in temperature.
Our engineering solution has the potential to stop this destructive trend, save multiyear ice, and help turn new winter ice into multiyear ice. The longer we wait, the more temperatures will rise, and the more devastating the impacts will be. By acting to slow the melt now, we are working to give ourselves the chance for a healthy future on planet Earth.
So much ice has melted–is it too late?
No. If we can bring back more reflective multiyear ice, there is a chance that we can restore the Arctic’s ice cap and its ability to protect the Earth from extreme heat.
Is your plan safe?
Yes, our materials are benign by design. Our axiom is “first do no harm.” Our floating materials look like white sand and are built from glass —the main ingredient of sand (very harmless). We plan to apply the materials to the surface of ice in limited, strategic areas. And everything is reversible: the materials can be removed or their effect reversed if necessary.
Is this geoengineering?
Geoengineering is a deliberate, large-scale effort to change the Earth’s climate for the better, but scares many people because some of the proposals sound dangerous or would likely have unintended or uncontrollable consequences (for example, adding sulfate aerosols to the stratosphere). In contrast, our approach involves the addition of harmless materials on a limited, local scale, and the materials can be removed or their effects reversed if necessary. Some call our approach eco-engineering, or reversible or soft geoengineering.
Who are you?
Ice911 Research is a nonprofit organization whose core team of engineers and scientists has decades of experience in materials and electrical engineering, electronics, optics, instrumentation, open source software and more.
We have attracted an interdisciplinary group of notable people with foundation, legal, business, management, climate, scientific, and engineering expertise to our governing board and to advisory roles to steer us toward achieving our organization’s goals.
Since our quiet start in 2006, we’ve made enormous progress: including testing environmentally safe, inexpensive materials, developing polar-strength instrumentation, demonstrating slower melt rates, attracting NASA interest, gaining respect at tech and sustainability contests, and instigating fieldwork above the Arctic Circle.
Ice911 is part of GSVlabs, a business accelerator for high-impact startups in Redwood City, CA, and has its own lab in Sunnyvale, CA.
Why are you doing this? Isn’t this the government’s job?
Simply put, the Ice911 team feels deeply inspired, and has the skills to try to improve the trajectory of our planet’s climate. Given the strong split in the U.S. government about climate change, Ice911 is joining other citizen scientists, ecological entrepreneurs, and community organizers who are acting now because there is no time to lose.
Who’s paying for this? How can I help?
Ice911 is a 501(c)3 non-profit and relies on donations from pioneering individuals and foundations who care about creating a better world. In addition, long-time Ice911 team members have contributed a huge number of volunteer hours toward developing and deploying our solution. To help us reach our goal sooner, please donate here.
What are the next steps?
Collect additional data during the 2016-2017 winter season (freeze and thaw) to better understand the whole energy system and environment and to make better predictions using modeling software. Pursue means to test and deploy our safe and effective ice-aid in the Arctic, where we hope to make a timely difference.