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Earth Idle Science

Mongolia Wants To Use Artificial Glaciers To Cool Capital 97

Posted by samzenpus
from the we're-going-to-need-a-bigger-ice-cube-tray dept.
phaedrus5001 wrote in with a story about an unusual plan to regulate the temperature of Ulan Bator, the capital city of Mongolia. The article reads: "The city of Ulan Bator will attempt to capture some of the cool winter temperatures in huge ice blocks that will slowly melt over the summer and cool down the city. The aim is to build artificial ice shields — or 'naleds' — that occur naturally in far northern climates and can grow to be more than seven meters thick. They grow when river water pushes through cracks in the surface of the ice during the day and then freezes to add an extra layer of ice when night falls. 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."
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Mongolia Wants To Use Artificial Glaciers To Cool Capital

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @04:36PM (#38077658)
    ... in the summer, I'm not sure they need that much cooling. (That's slightly over twenty degrees for those of you who don't speak proper American).
    • I was thinking the same thing, it isn't exactly warm there. I guess that 70 Fahrenheit is hot when you consider the average high come winter time is -10 Celsius.
      • Yeah, if their summers are that mild, it doesn't seem necessary. But then again, as a proof of concept, it has to happen somewhere the winters get very cold but the summers could stand to loose a little bit of heat. If they're too cold during the summer, they can break up the ice.
        • by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @05:32PM (#38078596) Homepage Journal

          Yeah, if their summers are that mild, it doesn't seem necessary. But then again, as a proof of concept, it has to happen somewhere the winters get very cold but the summers could stand to loose a little bit of heat. If they're too cold during the summer, they can break up the ice.

          Can't cite a source, but I do believe our bodies become accustomed to the cycles of a climate. Spending most of winter, for most of my life in colder climes I visited Athens, Greece a couple times in Winter. After a few days of 70 F/ 20 C I was miserable and felt overburdened by the heat. I booked flight for Geneva and when I stepped onto the tarmac in Switzerland, I opened my jacket to let the cool 10 F / -10 C air in. It felt good. I believe it was an example of a metabolism which was accustomed to generating body heat couldn't cope well with warmer weather in the middle of Winter.

          With glaciers and Winter in decline across the world perhaps cities are noticing an increase in heat.

          • I have a similar story with humidity. Growing up in New Orleans, the first few times I went to vacation in Nevada, nearly every orifice in my body bled. Likewise, my friends from there would constantly feel 'sticky' when visiting New Orleans. After several trips back and forth though, we all got use to it.
          • by rrohbeck (944847)

            There is no such thing as bad weather, only improper clothing. If you feel hot at 20C you're wearing too much.

            • by Dahamma (304068)

              Or are morbidly obese.

            • by maglor_83 (856254)

              Sure. So long as ice vests count as clothing. When it's pushing 50C it doesn't matter how little you're wearing, it's still bloody hot!

              • by rrohbeck (944847)

                Depends on the humidity. 50C dry is tolerable, 50C at high humidity will kill you.

            • by Eddi3 (1046882)
              Bullshit. I live in Seattle, where the average during the summer is around 70F, but when it gets to 70+ I'll be sweating even if I'm naked in my house sitting still. I typically wear a t-shirt and shorts for most of the year, unless it dips below 40F. I like to cool my room down to 60F during the summer, and during the winter I never turn the heat on. I moved here from Florida, and after living here for 3-4 years I became very accustomed to the colder weather.
        • If the winters are -10 degrees on the average then the ice shield would also act as an insulator to dampen some that cold.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @04:50PM (#38077900)
      It's basically the same climate as Winnipeg, and we use air conditioning for a good chunk of the summer. the average high is around 20C, but that's because it alternates between 10C and 30C through most of the summer. Also, northern towns just aren't equipped to deal with heat waves - nobody has swimming pools, and only about 70% of homes have air conditioning. If the temperature is over 35C, pretty much everything shuts down. On the other hand, throw us a week of -40, or a foot of snow and it's life as usual.
      • But what about your lows? Can't you open the windows at night to cool off? Glancing at last year's weather it looked like you really needed AC about ten days if you did that.

        By contrast, although my home in the Southeast never gets really cold, we had 61 straight days this summer in which the temperature never fell below 20 C.
        • by Hadlock (143607)

          In Dallas many of the older homes that had central AC added after the 1960's simply have their windows painted shut as a way to seal the house from the heat. We measure "days over 100" (that's 42c roughly) in double digits, the record being 42. The total number of days over 100 in any given year ranges from 30 to 70. For example my last two houses were built in 1914 and 1945, single pane windows and wood floors. Sealing the windows by painting them shut is a last ditch effort to keep my electric bill under

        • by bwalzer (708512)
          It is hard to make windows that both insulate really well and provide a large apeture when open. My house (which coincidentally is also in Winnipeg) has laughably small window openings. Modern insulated windows are better but it is still a tradeoff. The uninsulated windows that originally came with the house were much better in the summer than anything I would install today (triple pane R5+).

          I can overcome this to some extent with a powerful fan but I have to live with a lot of noise at night...

        • by swb (14022)

          I live in Minnesota in a house built in the 1950s without central air (it was actually added to the house in the 1970s, and we have a modern compressor, etc).

          I'm not sure how they lived in the house in the summer before A/C. Any day with a daytime temperature over 80 degrees the house will generally be at least 3 degrees warmer than the outside ambient air temperature, my (master) bedroom, at least 5 degrees warmer. Strangely, even after the sun sets, the house remains warm and retains the heat long after

          • by Anguirel (58085)

            If you have fireplaces with chimneys, you could try opening the flue (without the fire) to see if it would draw air in.

          • Attic fan might help, but your point is taken. As for how they did it in the past, they just suffered. My father-in-law grew up in Dallas and didn't have any A/C at all in his house until he was in third grade (~1960) and none in any of his elementary or secondary schools.
            • by swb (14022)

              They did suffer, but they also built dwellings (especially the better ones) to ventilate -- high ceilings, floor plans that allowed for cross-ventilation, transoms above doors, and attics with windows to better vent the heat.

              Some even had "sleeping porches" -- large screen porches people slept on during extreme hot spells.

              All these things were less common in MN because it generally is less brutal than more southern states, but I have seen plenty of old photographs and written descriptions of heat spells whe

      • by Dahamma (304068)

        Actually, it's not really the same climate... just similar latitude. A lot of Mongolia is in the Gobi desert, so the temperature variation is more like -40 to 40+ (and commonly hits those extremes rather than being a rare event).

      • by evilviper (135110)

        Also, northern towns just aren't equipped to deal with heat waves - nobody has swimming pools, and only about 70% of homes have air conditioning.

        As a desert rat myself, who goes jogging in 50C (120F) weather, I feel compelled to remind everyone that YOU CAN HANDLE HIGH TEMPERATURES. Is everyone unaware that 35C (95F) is BELOW normal body temperature? And when it gets warmer than that, a little perspiration kicks in and keeps your temperature well regulated. I realize in many places like Los Angeles a h

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          In fact humans are among the animals most highly evolved to handle high temperatures.

          Some of us wilt in the heat. Some people do very well. Some of us do well in the cold. Mexicans wear their hoodies until it's like 80 out. I think you are overgeneralizing.

          • by evilviper (135110)

            I am not overgeneralizing at all. I'm stating a biological fact, which is rather universally accepted.

            Another one you'll hate... All healthy adults are capable of running marathons.

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              Another one you'll hate... All healthy adults are capable of running marathons.

              Haha, you're funny. But the first guy to run a marathon died, and he was a runner, so he was probably in excellent health.

              I'm not a healthy adult anyway, I have Asthma, probably because my mom smoked until she found out she was pregnant (thanks for quitting when you decided to try to have a kid, bitch) and my dad smoked throughout the pregnancy and then with me in the car and shit like that.

              • by evilviper (135110)

                NARRATOR: Steve's embrace of endurance running raises the question, are we all born to run?

                Some human features seem just right for the job like the springy arch of the human foot. Hairless skin and abundant sweat glands provide exceptional cooling. We also have large muscular butts which prevent us from tipping too far forward.

                Humans don't run fast. Sometimes even squirrels can outrace us. But in a warm climate, over distance, we can outrun dogs, antelope, and even horses, which will all overheat.

                In our evo

                • by drinkypoo (153816)

                  MALISSA WOOD: If the individual has not trained their heart adequately, the heart really starts getting tired. In people that have trained adequately for the marathon, their hearts look fine.

                  So far we're still not talking about average individuals; in fact, we're now talking about a subset (marathon trainers) of a subset (runners).

                  Keep trying! You'll never get there, but it's fun to watch! We're better evolved for walking than for running. Other animals have stuff we don't for that. But what we're really evolved for is adaptation. We adapt to new environments very rapidly. In fact, we even pass some of this adaptation on to our offspring. If you're born at high altitude then your lungs will gro

                  • by evilviper (135110)

                    So far we're still not talking about average individuals; in fact, we're now talking about a subset (marathon trainers) of a subset (runners).

                    No, we aren't. The quote doesn't say anything like that, so you just pulled that one entirely out of your ass. And your assertion is directly refuted by the source I already cited.

                    you're never going to adapt as well as someone who started where you did but has had generations to get there.

                    Is this your utter misunderstanding of evolution on display here? Nothing mag

        • by swalve (1980968)
          The body needs to radiate heat to stay at that temperature. (Above some ambient temp.) If you can't shed enough heat, the temperature starts going up. Besides the ambient temperature, you need to account for radiant heat loads. On sunny days when I am stuck in the car driving long distances, I can get the A/C to bring the ambient down just fine. But the heat radiating through the body of the car means I'm still sweating bullets and feel like shit.
      • by jez9999 (618189)

        It's basically the same climate as Winnipeg, and we use air conditioning for a good chunk of the summer. the average high is around 20C, but that's because it alternates between 10C and 30C through most of the summer.

        Your air conditioning sounds like overkill. It gets hotter than 30C ni the UK sometimes in summer and air conditioning is almost unheard-of outside of big commercial buildings.

    • by eexaa (1252378)

      In a landscape that far from large water bodies the nightly/daily temperatures differ much more than here. That can perfectly give them pretty annoying 110F during day and 40F every night.

      • by ackthpt (218170)

        In a landscape that far from large water bodies the nightly/daily temperatures differ much more than here. That can perfectly give them pretty annoying 110F during day and 40F every night.

        Sounds like Sacramento, or even Mountain View, California. The humidity of the surrounding air has an insulative effect. Drier air, like you'll find in Nevada, Arizona and California can have similar daily temperature swings. You'll feel the heat much less in dry surroundings. Ulan Bator has relative humidity around 60% during the Summer months, so wide swings are likely.

        I still think they would benefit more found creating some parks with broad shallow ponds, with some fountains. If they have the water

        • by swalve (1980968)
          This is true. The altitude makes a difference too. I was in Lake Tahoe one time (6220 feet, 1800m), and the day night temperature swings were wild. Even when the sun went behind the clouds, I could feel a chill even though the temperature was in the 60s or 70s.
      • It sounds like proper insulation and a "heat recovery installation" (dunno the proper English word and Wiki won't help me. It's a kind of ventilation that heats/cools the incoming air with the outgoing air, expensive models have a way around the system if the temp outside is closer to the set temp as the inside temp is. Despite the name it works perfectly to keep your house cool in the summer, although it won't get your house cool).
        Airco's are unnessecary if the outside temp varies around the perfect temp
    • Perhaps they are trying to lure Google/Yahoo/Microsoft data centres to Ulan Bator with a surfeit of coolness?

  • Got to admit, that's the most realistic way to naturally cool an area I've heard of to date. I just hope it doesn't mess with any established order too much -like fish migrations or an increase in flooding.
    • Re:Very Interesting (Score:4, Informative)

      by Aryden (1872756) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @04:50PM (#38077898)
      Rome used water fountains in the squares and other public areas to keep the heat down and add moisture to the area.
      • Yes, that helps a little with heat but also causes molding. Also, in places like Louisiana it does nothing at all.
    • Re:Very Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @05:05PM (#38078160)

      They use a similar technique to cool the Kidd Creek mine: http://blogs.agu.org/martianchronicles/2011/08/01/9800-feet/

      "We learned during the mine briefing video that part of the cooling system actually involves opening up huge caverns near the surface during the winter and forcing the bitter cold air through while spraying water. This coats the tunnels in thick layers of ice. Then, during the summer, air is passed through these cavernous iceboxes before being sent down to the bottom of the mine."

    • Re:Very Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

      by inpher (1788434) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @05:13PM (#38078274)

      I suppose we could compare this to Ice Hotel in northern Sweden where they take 10 000 cubic meters of ice from the Torne River [wikipedia.org], since the flow of the river is about 370 cubic meters per second this means a disruption of slightly less than 30 seconds that melts back over the course of a few months. Tuul River [wikipedia.org] that will be used for this seems like a river of comparable size (longer, but likely a slower flow). If the Ulan Bator experiment will produce use ten times as much ice (100 000 cubic meters) and it will take about 120 days for it to melt back into the river it would be at a rate of: about 833 cubic meters per day, or about 34 cubic meters per hour,> or less than 600 liters per second.

      Now, for that to be a significant difference compared to normal flow during these months average flow must be if we say that anything less than 5% change is no big deal (I do not know what changes the river can actually deal with before botched migrations or flooding becomes a risk) for the river 12 cubic meters per second.

      If the river is flowing at 30 cubic meters per second and 5% change as a threshold then Ulan Bator could conceivably take 300 000 cubic meters of ice, let it melt during 150 days (april, may, june, july, august) and still not make a difference in the normal water flow.

      • by ackthpt (218170)

        They might simply be further ahead with creating several shallow fountains around the city. Evaporation could cool day temperatures, too.

      • by afidel (530433)
        833 tonnes of ice over 12 hours is 76.5 tons of cooling per hour, that's less than a midsized datacenter. I can't see how that can possibly have any meaningful effect on something the size of a city.
  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by Spigot the Bear (2318678) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @04:46PM (#38077818)
    "Solving the global warming problem once and for all!"

    "But..."

    "Once and for all!"
    • Haha, I'd mod that if I hadn't already commented on the posting. Watch out for Al Gore's head flying around in a rocket powered jar trying to destroy ASIMO.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Ice Must Flow

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The Ice Must Floe

      I fixed your post for you.

  • by alispguru (72689) <bane&gst,com> on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @05:23PM (#38078472) Journal

    A smaller scale version of the idea has been kicking around in the renewable energy area for many years - see ice ponds [wikipedia.org].

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @06:13PM (#38079174) Homepage Journal

    There was a story a few years back about a university (Scandinavia?) that spends the winter pumping water to freeze into a giant block on one part of campus, and then come summer, they just pump coolant through the block as it melts.

    Pumping water is apparently much cheaper than traditional cooling.

    • by afidel (530433) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @06:31PM (#38079368)
      Ice block cooling is fairly common in commercial and datacenter cooling systems in areas where there is a large discrepancy in pricing between peak and off peak electric prices. Also it's rarely water that is used as the heat transfer media, it's usually glycol as using water would result in clogged pipes because it would freeze in the portion of the pipe in contact with the ice block.
  • ice pond (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_pond
    An ice pond is a large volume of ice or snow produced and stored in the winter to be used for cooling/air conditioning in the summer. The best known experiment is the 'Princeton ice pond' by Ted Taylor in 1981. He then convinced the Prudential Insurance Company to use a bigger pond to provide air conditioning for a larger building.

  • If I remember my physics correctly, by inciting more ice formation during the winter, the freezing state change actually releases heat, which means winter will be marginally less harsh. Then, they'll take the extra ice and absorb heat during the winter. Win-win!
  • Tear Down Dis Shitty Wall!!!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If done on a large enough scale, could it help reduce the threat of methane gas escape from permafrost melt?

    Or perhaps are they just testing to help sustain ice flow reliant communities?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They are building an artifical flooding. In spring the ice will block the water and create a flood (which will then wash aways the ice).

    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      In spring the ice will block the water and create a flood (which will then wash aways the ice).

      That depends entirely on where they choose to put the ice block.

      I don't know about you, but I suspect that the Mongolians are just as capable of thinking about this as you are, and working to avoid such problems. (It's even just about possible that one of them reads Slashdot, and is striking their forehead and saying "Doh!" at this very moment.)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have lived several years in Canary Islands and Seville with up to 45 C and several years in Poland and Germany with down to - 30 C. After about 3 month your body gets used to the temperature and everything is OK, but during that acclimatisation period for example I was sweating when it was cold or felt terrible with anything over 20 degrees after getting used to cold weather.

  • I too was surprised, given that Mongolia has pretty normal temparatures of 70F. Anyway, here is an idea - maybe run it by Putin & Medvedyev. Ask them to trade land - take an area of 603,909 sq miles, which is the area of Mongolia, on Russia's northern coast in Krasnoyarsk Krai, and move everybody there, and in return, hand over all of Mongolia to Russia. I'm sure Russia will be happy with that trade, since that province is large but very thinly populated. Win-win situation - the Russians get a lot o

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