This is a new one. The capital of Mongolia, Ulan Bator, will soon undergo one of the largest feats of ice-making ever attempted. The city will essentially cultivate a giant block of ice over the winter, so that it might strategically take advantage of the cold it releases as it melts in the summer.
This mini-geoengineering experiment is set to begin in just a couple weeks, and scientists hope that it can prove an efficient way to cool off in warmer months -- they believe it can help negate the heat island effect, provide a controlled flow of cool water, and reduce energy demand from A/C units.Needless to say, anything that involves creating what is essentially a giant, year-round ice cube is sure to turn some heads.
The Guardian explains how the whole operation will work:
The project aims to artificially create "naleds" - ultra-thick slabs of ice that occur naturally in far northern climes when rivers or springs push through cracks in the surface to seep outwards during the day and then add an extra layer of ice during the night. Unlike regular ice formation on lakes - which only gets to a metre in thickness before it insulates the water below - naleds continue expanding for as long as there is enough water pressure to penetrate the surface. Many are more than seven metres thick, which means they melt much later than regular ice.
A Mongolian engineering firm ECOS & EMI will try to recreate this process by drilling bore holes into the ice that has started to form on the Tuul river. The water will be discharged across the surface, where it will freeze. This process - effectively adding layers of ice rinks - will be repeated at regular intervals throughout the winter.
These ice shields will then be manipulated, and brought into and around the city. There will, evidently, be giant ice cube parks in the capital of Mongolia this winter.
And why not? We've reached the stage where this kind of unconventional project should be embraced: The advance of climate change continues at a rapid rate, our summers are going to get hotter and longer, and we're going to need all the efficient ways to keep cool we can get our hands on. If that means engineering 20 ft ice shields in our cities to cut down on A/C energy usage, so be it -- I'd happily hang out in ice cube parks if it means fewer 100 degree days in the summer.