Global temperatures are on the rise. The long-predicted consequences of climate change are happening today—claiming lives, homes, and livelihoods. One of the most devasting effects of the warming is glacial melt.

Bright Ice Initiative is focused on increasing the reflectivity, aka albedo, of ice to slow the disastrous impact of glacial melting. Working in regions of critical need, our approach is to codevelop and evaluate solutions with and for communities living under the greatest threat, offering hope to them and ultimately, to the planet.

As glaciers disappear, sea levels will continue to rise, triggering catastrophic flooding and destabilization, regionally and globally. Recently, glacial melting has been accelerating, due to increasingly higher global temperatures. At the same time, the replacement of bright, reflective glacial ice with dirty ice and exposed rocks and soil is accelerating the rise in global temperature. It’s a vicious circle. With the planet warming at a much more rapid rate than experts predicted just a few years ago, there is no time for delay.

The transition to a sustainable energy infrastructure could take decades. This is critical work and must continue. In the meantime, we need safe, ecologically-respectful climate initiatives to prevent catastrophic loss. By interrupting the harmful cycle of the melting/warming process and restoring reflectivity to key sections of glacial ice, we can slow temperature rise, sea level rise, and the loss of ecosystems and species.

A Micro Solution to a Macro Problem

Bright Ice Initiative offers safe, simple solutions to inhibit glacial melting by adding a safe, reflective material to the surface of dirty ice and water to brighten it.

Hollow glass microspheres in application at a Minnesota test site

We’ll have tested and published results of using hollow glass microspheres (HGMs), which have been demonstrated to work very well in thin layers over flat areas. Our team has spent more than a decade developing, testing, and modeling this process. We’ve found that these highly-reflective spheres do an incredible job of brightening the surface of dirty ice and melt water, increasing the albedo.

Application of clay-based, reflective material on Langjökull glacier

In cooperation with the Icelandic Meteorological Office, we have also started testing of a safe, clay-based material which shows promise to brighten ice, and to stay in place on sloped terrain. Our Iceland test included both the HGM and clay-based reflective materials. We are currently compiling the results and will be publishing a report soon.

Covered with light-reflecting materials, the melting process is slowed, and over time the ice can potentially be restored. Small-scale research field tests are essential to determine the practicality, safety, effectiveness, and potential costs and benefits of such approaches to preserving ice.

It is our goal to collaboratively implement solutions that have the potential to give the world more breathing room to complete the urgent transition from our dependence on carbon-based energy to sustainability.