We chose to focus on the Arctic because it's the area where we can make the largest impact on the Earth’s temperatures. The ice in the Arctic acts as a global heat shield, playing a critical role in maintaining a safe and stable climate.
The Arctic is made up of two different kinds of ice: seasonal (“young”) ice that grows during the winter and melts during the summer, and permanent (“old”) ice that stays all year-round.
This permanent ice acts as the backbone of the entire region, keeping the waters cold enough to let new ice form and stick around even in the summer.
The younger ice is more vulnerable to the harsh Arctic environmental elements. Today, 70% of Arctic ice cover forms and melts within a single year.
The Arctic's oldest ice is vanishing
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2018 Arctic report card the oldest, thickest Arctic sea ice (the Earth’s heat shield!) has declined by a devastating 95%.
With the region’s ice declining, 2019 research is showing an icefree Arctic summer by as early as 2030.
The above one-minute animation, created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, tracks the relative amount of ice of different ages from 1990 through early November 2016. Seasonal ice is darkest blue. Ice that’s nine or more years old is white.
Over the years, satellite-based passive microwave images of the sea ice have provided scientists a reliable tool for continuously monitoring changes in the Arctic ice. Every summer the Arctic ice cap melts down to what NASA scientists call its "minimum" before colder weather begins to cause ice cover to increase.
The above NASA video shows a rapid decline in Arctic Sea ice over the last 35 years. In the first week of January 1988, over 1.2 million square miles were covered by sea ice four years of age or older, compared with just over 44,000 square miles in the same week in 2019.
There are three ways the Arctic reflects all solar radiation:
Open ocean. Only reflects 5% of solar radiation.
Young ice. Reflects approximately 35% of solar radiation.
Permanent, old ice. In years past, this ice reflected 70% of solar radiation. However, as stated above, 95% of the thickest, oldest ice has melted and is now gone.
Young Arctic ice with our solution:
would reflect 45%
of solar radiation.
Our microspheres mimic the young, bright ice to reflect the most solar radiation possible -- keeping more ice in the Arctic and the planet cooler for everyone:
Because the ocean absorbs 94% of the heat that comes its way, the Arctic could become a global heater if we let its ice melt.
Our team is testing a safe solution that reflects the most heat and mimics young, bright ice. It’s our goal to keep more ice in the Arctic during the summer and restore the region’s ice sheet to its previous size over time.