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ashling Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 03:12 PM
Original message
How much fresh water is locked up
in the shelf that broke off in Canada and from the Ross shelf in Antarctica?

First, a disclaimer: I realize that this might be dumb, stupid, environmentally unsound, etc. I am just posting this thought for discussion.

Assuming that Global Warming has gone so far as to doom these or other geographical ice features, and that if the melt, which they surely will given the original assumption, this would dump a lot of fresh water into the seas disruptin salinity and ecosystems, and given the fact that there are large areas of the earth without sufficient fresh water, would it be feasible, and or too environmentally disruptive to try to "mine" these features for their water reserves to be distributed elsewhere?


I am cross posting this to the lounge for wider comment.
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don954 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 03:40 PM
Response to Original message
1. the cost to move the water is the problem, its about the same
or more as getting it from other locations. Luckly this one isnt in the Gulf Stream / Conveyor Belt so it isn't in a spot to do major damage...
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Geoff R. Casavant Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 03:54 PM
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2. It's not a stupid question
No less august a personage than Isaac Asimov devoted several articles to asking and answering the same questions -- so at the very least, you're in good company.

His conclusion was that it would be prohibitively expensive to transport arctic ice to where water was needed, but who knows how much transportation and engineering costs may have come down in the 30 years since he wrote the articles?
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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 06:03 PM
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3. Some sad facts.
First most of the world's Fresh Water is in the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (Roughly 70%). The East Antarctic Ice Sheet is expected to EXPAND do to global warming. The reason for this is that Antarctica is completely within the Antarctic Circle AND is the highest Continent on earth, on average it is higher than Asia and South America which contain the highest mountains in Earth. Between these two actors the East Antarctic Ice Sheet is considered quit stable and will expand as the world heats up. The expansion occurs do to the increase moisture that will reach Antarctica do to the higher world wide temperature (Air can carry more water vapor the hotter it is, thus as air temperatures increase you will have more moisture in the air, which will drop as more snow over the East Antarctic Ice Sheet).

Now do NOT confuse the East Antarctic Ice Sheet with its next door neighbor the West Antarctic Ice Sheet or the other large ice Sheet on the Plant, the Greenland Ice Sheet. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is grounded BELOW sea level and thus affected by world wide ocean temperatures. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet contains about 10% of world wide Fresh water supplies. ANother 10% of the world Fresh water Supplies is in the Greenland Ice Sheet, which is Mostly lay within the Arctic Circle but stretches below that Circle making it less stable than the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. The remaining Ice Sheets, Glaciers (Generally the same as Ice Sheets), Rivers, Lakes, ponds etc contain the remaining 10 % of world wide Fresh water.

Thus you have a LOT of fresh water tied in with the Ice Sheets, the problem is getting the water to the desert areas where it is needed. The Coast of Australia is generally higher than the interior, thus you have to move the Ice Berg to southern Australia, then move is onto land and then over this land barrier to get it to the area where the water can do the most good. You have to first get the berg out of the Southern Ocean (the Ocean that goes around Antarctica). Once out of that current then hauling it to Australia. Then over the mountain to the some headwater for the rivers in Australia that flows into the central basin of the Continent. The energy to do all of this is huge. It might be better to just pump sea water over that barrier and into the center of the Continent and leave the Sun vaporize the Water hopefully causing the Moisture to fall as Fresh water. If you want a grand plan to help end the Drought pumping salt water into the deep interior might be a cheaper plan than hauling water over the highlands that is the coast line of Australia.

Don't worry, movement of Water to produce such affect have been proposed. The four projects generally mentioned is from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea in Israel, From the Mediterranean to Quattara Depression on the border between Libya and Egypt, From the red sea into Somalia along the Riff Valley and from the Gulf of Cortes to a vally in California (I want to say Death Valley but that would be wrong). All of these plans count on depressions that are now dry desert but also below prevailing sea levels. Thus each of these movement of water will permit generation of Electrical Energy and counts on the heat of the desert to evaporate the water so that additional Water can be added (Furthermore all of these depressions are either salt lakes, i.e. lakes that dried up centuries ago and had no access to the sea so that the water of these Lakes were salty like the Great Salt lake of Utah OR has a HUGE slat lake to this day. i.e. the Dead Sea).
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Porcupine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-30-06 12:01 AM
Response to Original message
4. Funny that a Texan should mention that.....

This book, if you should choose to read it, is horrible. But it does outline a rather silly method of moving icebergs from Antarctica to Texas; by kedging or dragging the iceberg along by means of anchors set in the seabed. Of course all of this is powered by liberal use of nuclear plants which could be used to desalinate water in the first place.
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