By Olivia Solon, Wired UK
Mongolia’s capital city, Ulan Bator, is planning to keep itself cool during the hot summer months by shunning air conditioning in favor of creating an enormous artificial urban glacier.
Engineering consortium EMI-ECOS will try to replicate this process by creating holes in the ice that is forming over the Tuul river. This will be repeated over and over again until the ice is much thicker than it would be if left alone.
As the Guardian reports, these “naleds” — also known as Aufeis — have been used in the past to create river crossings for tanks in North Korea and drilling platforms in Russia. Climate change is likely to melt permafrost from most of Central Asia, but some studies — including this one by geologist Robin Grayson — suggest that most naleds will survive and that they could be used to strengthen permafrost, protect biodiversity from climate change and create “cool parks” to combat urban heat islands of cities in summer heat-waves.
It is hoped that if the geoengineering trial is successful, the technique could be used in other northern cities to save on air conditioning costs.