Global warming will affect everyone on Earth, likely causing environmental devastation and human displacement at massive economic costs. Those economic effects can sometimes be forestalled by spending now to fight the effects of climate change.
That’s what Switzerland is trying to do. The country’s prized snow-capped Alps, a major tourist attraction, have been melting because climate change has reduced rainfall and increased temperatures. December 2016 was the driest month on record since 1864, and it came a year after the country experienced the warmest December on record.
Starting this summer, Hans Oerlemans of Utrecht University and his colleagues will blow artificial snow onto a small glacier at the foot of Diavolezzafirn, in the south-eastern part of Switzerland. The hope is that a thin white sheet of snow will increase the sunlight reflected, and thus protect the ice underneath from melting, Oerlemans explained at the European Geosciences Union on Thursday (Apr. 27). If this $100,000 pilot project is successful, researchers hope they can raise funding to use the technique to protect the Morteratsch glacier, a huge tourist attraction that’s considered a national treasure—but is shrinking.
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