What is Ice911?
Ice911 Research is a nonprofit dedicated to climate restoration starting with Arctic ice, which is a very important lever on climate change. Loss of reflective ice in the Arctic over the past few decades contributes greatly to the current global temperature rise.
We’ve spent the past decade testing and developing material approaches that could be used to make young, thin ice reflective. We now focus on using reflective hollow microspheres, which can be thought of as a kind of white, floating sand, chosen for its safety and practicality.
Once dispersed in limited, strategic locations, the nontoxic material would act as a thin reflective layer on Arctic ice.
Our approach isn’t the magic wand that will avert a global catastrophe, but rather a safe interim solution that can be applied now to ameliorate global warming, buying time for humanity to move to a more sustainable economy.
Is Arctic Ice Important?
Yes. The region plays a critical role in maintaining a safe and stable global climate.
For the past 700,000 years, Arctic sea ice has acted as the Earth’s heat shield by reflecting incoming solar radiation safely back to space, keeping us at an even temperature.
What’s Happening in the Arctic?
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2018 Arctic report card indicates the climate of the Earth’s north polar region is changing:
Air temperatures warmed twice as fast as the rest of the world.
The oldest, thickest sea ice declined by a devastating 95%.
Caribou and wild reindeer declined by nearly 50%.
Harmful algal blooms increased from a warming Arctic Ocean.
The disappearance of the Arctic’s summer sea ice cover is one of the most visible warning signs of severe climate change and is already having consequences that are felt all over the world.
Can I Read the Full Report?
Yes, please visit NOAA’s website.
Is this a Climate Crisis?
Yes. Scientists worldwide suggest that continued warming of the Arctic’s atmosphere and ocean are driving broad changes in the Earth’s environmental system.
The changes that are happening in the Arctic don’t just affect the Arctic. Our planet has already experienced several devastating effects as global average temperatures have risen by 0.8°C due to human causes, including droughts, wildfires, flooding, and sea level rise.
Why Not Just Fix the Problem of Greenhouse Gases, Instead of Proposing a Climate Intervention?
We need to do both.
It’s extremely important to fix the problem of greenhouse gases. The problem we’re trying to help with is to give the time needed to complete the change-over of the world’s carbon-based economy and to develop and use carbon-removal solutions while reducing the impacts of climate devastation.
While this important decarbonization work is being done, Ice911’s solution can be used to slow down and avert billions or trillions of dollars of climate devastation, loss of life, and loss of ecosystems. The loss of Arctic reflectivity is currently driving ⅓ of global temperature rise, accelerating the devastating impacts of climate change. Slowing the Arctic ice loss, and in fact, rebuilding it can substantially reduce these tragic damages.
What’s Your Solution?
We’ve spent the past decade testing and developing material approaches that could be used to make young, thin ice reflective. We now focus on using reflective hollow microspheres, which can be thought of as a kind of white, floating sand, chosen for its safety and practicality. This acts as a thin reflective layer on Arctic ice. This slows the melt and helps young, thin ice act more like multiyear, reflective ice.
Once dispersed in limited, strategic locations in the Arctic, the nontoxic material would act as a thin reflective layer on the region’s ice.
When ice lasts longer, the Arctic stays cooler and so does the planet. We invite you to learn more about our nontoxic solution.
Is Your Solution Safe?
What’s Your Solution Made From?
Our solution (hollow glass microspheres, which can be thought of as a type of floating white sand) is made from a silicate glass which is mostly silicon dioxide (“silica”). Silica is a compound made of two of the earth's most abundant materials: silicon and oxygen. The mass of Earth’s crust is 59% silica, the main constituent of more than 95% of the known rocks.
This is a safe choice for animals and ecosystems because all life on Earth has co-evolved with it in various forms on land, in our rocks, and dissolved in our oceans. It’s a safe form of the material, large, amorphous and round enough to not cause harm to living creatures or the environment. And this material is bright and reflective, not like a transparent glass lens, but like reflective white sand or snow.
Is This Material Like the Plastics and Nanoplastics That Are Causing Harm in the Oceans?
No. The sand-like materials we use to help ice be more reflective are very different than plastics. While plastic can be toxic and is unnatural in the environment, the sand-like materials we use are nontoxic and are made from materials that are naturally present throughout the Earth’s ecosystems.
Plastic can attract oil-based pollutants because they are both hydrophobic (which means they have more of an affinity for oil than for water), leading to bad consequences when ingested by living creatures. And nanoparticles are suspected of having cancer-causing effects. Our materials are hydrophilic (so they have no affinity for oil), and our microspheres are more than 1,000 times larger than nanoparticles, avoiding nanoplastics toxic and cancer risks.
What if Animals Ingest it?
Humans, animals, birds, and fish alike ingest silica regularly. Birds look for and select larger grains of silica to aid digestion in their stomachs and fish swim through it at about one part per million of ocean water. Most importantly, because we've all co-evolved with silica, it does not bioaccumulate (i.e. it doesn’t become concentrated inside the bodies of living things).
Can Animals Choke on it?
No. The smallest of animals, birds and fish can't choke on our solution. Each individual microsphere is extremely fine (imagine a very fine powder).
Is Spring the Best Season to Deploy?
Yes. So far our climate modeling that takes into account weather patterns in the Arctic over the long- and short-term, says that Spring is likely the best time to deploy. This will help ice last longer into the summer months and can help to eventually rebuild multi-year reflective ice.
What if Snow Falls on the Material?
Snow is extremely reflective. If snow covers our material, that’s actually beneficial. When the snow eventually melts, our material is able to take over reflecting the sunlight, protecting the less-reflective ice underneath.
Is “Multiyear” Ice Important?
Yes. The most reflective type of ice in the Arctic—multiyear ice that survives Arctic summers—has melted with shocking speed as the region warms faster than the rest of the planet.
Lost reflective ice has already contributed to one-third of the global rise in temperature. Our solution would help young, thin ice act more like multiyear, reflective ice.
Can We Save Arctic Ice?
Ask “if not now, when? If not us, who?” Sea ice minimums are reaching a point where scientific climate models project an ice-free Arctic as early as 2030. With your help, we have the potential to stop this destructive trend, save multiyear ice, and help turn new winter ice into multiyear ice. If we can bring back more reflective multiyear ice, there’s a chance that this can restore the Arctic’s ice cap and its ability to protect the Earth from extreme heat.
Who Founded Ice911?
Dr. Leslie Field (shown above in blue). She’s a Ph.D. engineer, inventor, Lecturer at Stanford University, and a concerned Mom. She served as the Founding Director of the Center for Climate Restoration’s Polar Restoration Action Group. Leslie earned her B.S. and M.S. in Chemical Engineering from MIT, and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from UC Berkeley, with a minor in Materials Science.
How Can I Help?
Donate, become a foundation partner, volunteer, spread the word! We’re a 501(c)3 nonprofit and rely on donations from individuals and foundations who care about creating a better world. Explore ways to support us.