Despite being the coldest national capital in the world, Mongolia's Ulan Bator is about to undertake a unique climatological experiment — employing artificial glaciers to cool and water the city during its warmer months.
The $717,000 experiment involves artificially growing "naleds". A naled is a thick slab of ice that can grow in excess of one metre — often up to seven — because liquid water is pushed to the surface through cracks in the flow by a river or spring. Normal ice that freezes from the top down has a maximum thickness of one meter — at that width, it insulates the water below from freezing further. Naleds, on the other hand, will continue to grow until the pressure is no longer sufficient to push more water up.
In Ulan Bator, a local engineering firm will take naturally occurring ice flows on the Tuul river and repeatedly bore holes in them throughout the winter to grow the ice blocks. Once warm weather arrives, the enormous slabs will be transported to the city where they're are expected to reduce demand from air conditioners as well as provide irrigation and drinking water by slowly melting. If the technique proves effective, it could be implemented in any climate with sufficiently hot summers and a few below-freezing months. [Guardian]
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