Building walls on the seafloor could halt the slide of undersea glaciers melting in the deep ocean and ultimately hold back rising sea levels resulting from global warming, according to a study published Thursday in the European Geosciences Union journal The Cryosphere.
The report suggested altering the surface of the seafloor near glaciers flowing into the ocean as a way of preventing them from melting further.
This process, called glacial geoengineering, would entail the construction of isolated columns or mounds on the sea floor.
On a smaller scale, the structures would extend about 300 meters high and would have about a 30 percent probability of preventing a runaway collapse of ice sheets in the west Antarctic.
A larger initiative, which is beyond the size of existing large civil engineering projects, would have higher chances of success and could even cause ice sheets to regain mass, researchers said.
"We all understand that we have an urgent professional obligation to determine how much sea level rise society should expect, and how fast that sea level rise is likely to come," study author Michael Wolovick said in a statement. "However, we would argue that there is also an obligation to try to come up with ways that society could protect itself against a rapid ice-sheet collapse."
Recent research has suggested that warm water beneath ice shelves was a contributor to ice loss in west Antarctica.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory outlined this in 2016 in a report published in the journal Nature Communications, which said increased circulation of warm water beneath the ice shelf was likely the main contributor to ice loss in the region.
The proposed project could help combat the effects of climate change, but Wolovick cautioned that reducing emissions still remained key to stopping climate change and its dramatic effects.
"The more carbon we emit, the less likely it becomes that the ice sheets will survive in the long term at anything close to their present volume," he said.
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