Berlin, August 17 : A German geographer has said that wind screens could help to keep chilly breezes on top of glaciers in Europe, thus saving them from melting.
The glaciers of the world are melting fast, and the ice-rivers of Europe's Alps are no exception. Some researchers think that within 30 years Europe's glaciers will all but vanish.
With the world's temperature rising, there seem to be few ways to save the glaciers. Even if the world's carbon emissions were dramatically reduced in the near future, the fate of the glaciers seems sealed.
So far, only one method has proven effective in slowing glacial melt: massive, light colored covers that keep the glaciers cool by reflecting sunlight.
But they're usually only enough to preserve a few ski slopes.
Now, according to a report in Spiegel Online, geographer Hans-Joachim Fuchs in the western German city Mainz has come with an idea to save the glaciers.
The researcher wants to harness the power of cold mountain winds - so-called kabatic winds, or streams of cold, dense air that flow downhill - with windscreens, which would keep the cool air on top of the glaciers, perhaps preserving them for a little while longer.
To demonstrate this idea, Fuchs and 27 students have headed to the Rhone glacier in Switzerland to install a windscreen measuring 15 meters long (50 feet) and 3 meters high at an elevation of 2,300 meters (7,545 feet) on the leading edge of the glacier.
The team will be measuring the effectiveness of the screen to see if it's a viable solution.
Fuchs has described his project as a "little test." "If all goes well, then we'll go ahead with something much larger," he said.