"With ice in polar regions disappearing at record rates, a group of researchers has proposed a drastic idea in the hope of slowing the melting: erecting giant underwater ‘curtains’ near glaciers to protect them from warm water. The idea has been met with scepticism and serious consideration alike, while scientists grapple with questions of whether pursuing such a radical proposal would help the world to address climate change.

"We absolutely don’t know if [the idea] is going to work or not,” says John Moore, a glaciologist at the University of Lapland in Finland, and the main proponent of the idea. But he thinks that it is “vitally important” for scientists to explore it in case the polar ice sheets start to “go unstable early”, despite the best global efforts to cut greenhouse-gas emissions."

Several experts are interviewed for the piece, including Dr. Shaun Fitzgerald, the director of the Centre for Climate Repair at the University of Cambridge. The Centre aims to start laboratory experiments to test mathematical models of the curtain that were developed by other researchers.

Glaciologist Twila Moon at the NSIDC at the University of Colorado Boulder shares more critical views, including the fear of moral hazard i.e. the risk of reduced motivation to mitigation. Christian Schoof from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver says that seabed anchored curtains, like any other climate intervention method, is a stopgap measure to buy time to address the root causes of climate change. Also Moore underlines the importance of rapid mitigation and sees underwater curtains as additional tools to alleviate the impacts of climate change. Moreover, Moore underlines that any on-site tests in Greenland can only happen after careful research, and only if Greenlanders consent and support the idea.

Read the full news article on the Nature webpages

Read more about the seabed curtain project here