"Wind-catching" screens could slow dramatic glacier melt in Europe

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London, August 20 : A German geography professor has developed a controversial system of mountain "wind-catching" screens, which he claims, could slow or even halt the dramatic rate at which Europe's glaciers are melting.

Glaciers across the globe are shrinking fast as a consequence of global warming. In Europe alone, some researchers have predicted that all its glaciers will have vanished by 2100.

But now, according to a report in the Independent, Professor Hans-Joachim Fuchs from Germany's Mainz University claims to have found at least a partial answer to the problem.

His technique involves capturing the power of cold mountain - so-called kabatic - air streams with wind-catching screens installed on melting glaciers.

The screens are designed to harness the dense kabatic air streams that flow downhill and deflect them directly on to the surface of the glaciers, thereby cooling them enough, it is hoped, to counteract the effects of global warming.

In early August, Professor Fuchs and a team of 27 student researchers from Mainz University traveled to the Rhone glacier in Switzerland.

There, they installed a 15 metre-long, 10 metre-high wind catching screen at an altitude of 2,280 metres on the glacier in the country's Valais region.

Monitoring has shown that the Rhone glacier is shrinking seven metres a year. However, Professor Fuchs insists that his wind- catcher will help to combat this.

According to Funk, glacier melt rates are far less influenced by wind temperatures than by the effects of the sun's rays and the atmosphere.

"These are the main factors and that is why the covers are so effective," said Funk. "They reduce melting by about 80 per cent," he added.

"We hope that our installations will bring about a net cooling of the area," he said in a statement. "If the meltdown is not stopped, we hope that it will at least be slowed down," he added.

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