I've read this question already on sending water to the north pole, south pole and glaciers, and I thought I'd give it my own take and see how technically possible it could be.


As previously established by [a majority of the scientific community], sea levels and global temperatures continue to rise as result of climate change (and humans causing climate change.) Rising sea levels are not good news for islands or low-lying ground, and as such that is the basis for this question.

Let's say an extravagant inventor came up with a device/system that would perform the following actions:

  1. Energy is collected from wind and solar panels in the North and South poles.
  2. The electrical energy is used to pump sea water, filtered of the salt & other impurities, into small containers.
  3. The purified/filtered water is frozen in these containers with nitrogen.
  4. The frozen water is moved (possibly via robots/remote controlled vehicles), stacked and stored on land, which over time would build up the amount of water concentrated in the poles.

Apart from the cost factor (which would be significant), how practical could this solution be in reducing sea levels/the temperature increase from climate change?

  • $\begingroup$ Where is the pure water ice stored? $\endgroup$ Jul 26 at 23:17

There are a couple of different questions in there -- one is whether this would help with sea level rise, the other whether this would help with temperature increase. (The second part is easy to answer; it wouldn't help with temperatures at all -- nominally, freezing would involve moving heat from the water to somewhere else in the climate system.)

(Notably there is no land at the North Pole. You'd want Greenland.)

I'm pretty sure we've dealt with this issue in parts in other questions, such as the practicality of shoring up ice sheets, pumping water into the center of the Antarctic, or pumping water into the desert interior of another continent. You're basically talking about not just reversing the equivalent of one of the largest rivers in the world (the Congo River being roughly comparable with current rates of melt), but also freezing all of that water and conveying it over land.

In reality, you're not going to get much reliable wind and solar from polar installations, where the sun is at a poor angle and the winds can be destructive (though you'll get some, see Princess Elisabeth station http://www.antarcticstation.org/station/renewable_energies). Even if you have a magical source of energy to power this freezing and transporting process so that you're not burning fossil fuels, you're also talking about building the world's largest infrastructure projects in the world's most inhospitable environments and maintaining them for the hundreds of years it will take for CO2 levels to decline to pre-industrial levels.

Also, to the degree this magically solves or reduces any problems, it will encourage some nations (such as Russia, which benefits from a warming world) to continue burning fossil fuels.

In short, the energy, engineering, infrastructure, and political will it would take to try to pull this off would be better spent on reducing carbon emissions and/or extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.


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