Sunday, May 10, 2015

Heard of these - DIY glaciers

A retired civil engineer in Ladakh is detaining flowing water in high-elevation shaded areas in winter to create "glaciers" (really ice fields - these things aren't moving). He has nine glaciers going so far, storing water that melts much later in the summer than the snow, providing water when it's most desperately needed.

I've heard of examples like this (more are discussed in the article) and it may be something we'll want to copy here in California. "Guzzlers" are common at lower elevations to provide water to wildlife - I have doubts about their wisdom in most circumstances, but it's an example of dispersed manipulation of water systems. I could imagine installing cheap stream diversions on mountainsides that move some flowing water to from southern to northern exposures and spread it out to freeze. This might support a more natural hydrograph than one without adaptation to climate change.

Not certain it's a good idea, but maybe worth considering.

In other news, a very nice salute from Jonathan Zasloff, "Requiem for a Bottom Feeder" about the retirement of Don Shoup, the land use planning academic who wrote The High Cost of Free Parking. Shoup decided to focus on the lowest prestige/least-researched issue in his field, zoning regulations, and ended up doing great things because of it. Quite a contrast to the tiny handful of mediocre academics who decided to reach out for prestige that's eluded them by refuting the entire field of climate science.


JohnMashey said...

Yes, Don's book was a real eye-opener.

It may well be that an era of Zip-cars, Uber and eventually self-driving-Ubers will help improve the situation.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

God bless the guy! What a great idea!

Russell Seitz said...

DIY glacier promotion is the specialty of California's Ice 911

which has advocated covering snowpack with sheets of styrofoam or hollow glass reflecting beads, or floating white rafts of lightweight stuff on Arctic seas.

The cost per acre-foot of saving water in such ways seems alas to vastly exceed what the water is worth-- you don't get much coverage for $50 an acre

Hank Roberts said...

> hollow glass ... beads

Those got a lot of writeups as lightweight insulation some years back but I never saw them in actual products. They were supposedly going to make thermally insulating wall and roof paint, and stucco, and concrete.

I wonder what happened to all those suggestions.

Now glaciers, huh? I doubt it.

Hank Roberts said...

> guzzlers

The only one I happen to see in the California back country has for years been full of large caliber round holes. Meteor storm, no doubt.

4wd OHV dirt tracks developing all over the area tearing up everything too.

Is there a California damage reporting program? I see the one for Nevada.

Fernando Leanme said...

This is a good geoengineering idea. But we need to check the net albedo change, if it works we can have Tibetans making ice ponds all over Tibet.

Aaron said...

Well we had a lot of WHITE ice, then we burned some coal and turned it black.

As long as the Siberian tundra is smoldering, any kind of albedo enhancement will have to be cleaned on a regular basis.

If you want to change albedo, on cold nights spray a mist of water, and cover everything with snow. We know how to make snow, it is just not very portable.

Russell Seitz said...

We ran the numbers on snowmaking. Because water flows downhill, it costs a lot to pump it up to skiing elevationss, let alone the Continental Divide where the snowpack starts-- the details are somewhere in my Wilson Center slides , but IIRC, the cost is around 500 clams and acre foot and up, depending on elevation

EliRabett said...

Russ, you may be missing two points.

First, you don't have to pump uphill to freeze the water in shaded areas, just moving it to the shaded area is enough. Second, if your pumps are solar/wind driven the operating costs can be low