Greenland: Reflections from a Melting Planet

The first thing I noticed after touching down in the western Greenland settlement of Kangerlussuuaq was barren rock and a gray, sediment-choked river.

It was day one of traveling with a group led by Rising Seas Institute and Oceanographer John Englander. As we stood on a new bridge that spans the Watson River, my heart dropped as we learned the reason for the new bridge: accelerated melt from glaciers and flooded ice dams washed the bridge away ten years ago and it had just been reconstructed.

This grim story of the Watson River flood foreshadowed our journey through this beautiful, treacherous, and mostly frozen island called Greenland. Reminders of a rapidly changing environment were everywhere.

We continued on to Iluulisat, a thriving port town, its bay filled with icebergs so enormous they resembled a bleached Manhattan skyline. The iceberg that sank the RMS Titanic is said to have split from the Kangia Glacier that feeds into this very bay. The difference of course, between 1912 and now, is the undeniable acceleration of calving and loss of ice and water from the Greenland Ice Sheet. 


It is hard to see these floating ice sculptures and their sheer size as anything but beautiful when traveling in a boat among them.

Flying over the massive ice sheet reveals a much different story. To view the frozen terrain from the air reveals the destructive forces behind the beauty we had sailed through. Glaciers retreat from the sea and the radiant blue pock marks of melt ponds scar the ice sheet.

The melt ponds form rivers that seem to disappear into the ice via mulons or vertical shafts. Black soot, dirt, mold and pulverized rock dust give the ice sheet a tired, worn look. The loss becomes more evident at the edge of the sheet, where the calving occurs. Thunderous booms echo across the valley as huge chunks of ice fall into the bay.


In a perfect world, fresh snow and ice would cover the ice sheet, as it used to. There would be markedly fewer melt ponds and the scarred, cracked surface would be hidden under a radiant blanket of snow and ice. But this is not a perfect world.

The Greenland Ice Sheet, if it were to disappear, would raise sea levels by 30 feet.

The critical role that ice plays in keeping our planet cool, be it sea ice or land ice, is nowhere more evident than in Greenland.

We must do something to slow the loss of ice in the Arctic. 

I share this story with you today, in the face of political inaction, because witnessing the devastation climate change has already caused, first hand, has inspired in me a new urgency for action. We can wait no longer. The world’s governments are failing to meet this moment and so we find ourselves in positions where we must each step up and join the fight for our planet’s future – for our future and next generations.

Time is not on our side, but at Arctic Ice Project we are working to change that. Arctic Ice Project has developed and is researching a promising technology that improves the reflectivity of sea ice. By mimicking the natural reflective properties of ice, AIP methods can reflect solar energy out of our atmosphere, shepherding sea ice to survive the increasingly long, warm and intense Arctic summers. Our solution, strategically and safely applied in the Arctic, could provide up to 15 more years for our world’s economies to decarbonize and draw down GHGs from the atmosphere. Decarbonization is the ultimate solution, however our window of opportunity is limited and we need to take action now. I have committed myself to being part of this exciting research solution and I encourage you to join me. 

This Giving Tuesday (just three weeks away), we are raising money to fund the next round of research towards ensuring our technology is safe and effective. We rely exclusively on private donations to support our research and need your help to reach our goal of $50,000 to continue our progress. Climate change action can’t be postponed another day, week or year – I urge you to help us meet this goal today.


With gratitude,

Carol Sontag

AIP Board of Directors


All images were taken by Carol Sontag during her trip to Greenland. 

Arctic Ice Project Welcomes Seasoned Nonprofit Executive Annette Eros as New Chief Executive Officer

Arctic Ice Project Welcomes Seasoned Nonprofit Executive Annette Eros as New Chief Executive Officer


Redwood City, CA, October 20, 2022 – Arctic Ice Project (AIP), a nonprofit dedicated to safely preserving and restoring Arctic ice to slow climate change, today announced Annette Eros has joined as Chief Executive Officer. The AIP Board of Directors has been familiar with Eros and her work as a nonprofit leader for several years. Eros was selected by the board to lead the global organization and help accelerate progress toward restoring Arctic ice, the Earth’s natural heat shield. Emphasizing relationships with top research organizations, Indigenous tribes, and national/regional governments and NPOs, Eros understands the importance of increased global collaborations and exposure to the success of the project. 

“Annette brings the expertise and experience that will help align necessary resources to realize our ambitious growth objectives, including expanding our technical work, developing new strategic partnerships, and increasing major donor participation on a global scale,” said Steve Payne, chairman of the board of AIP. “She is a strategic and inspirational leader with a proven track record in transformational nonprofit leadership and will help advance our vision and goals so we can prove and scale our climate restoration solution while there’s still time.”

In her role, Annette Eros is responsible for advancing efforts to prove the efficacy and safety of AIP’s solution to preserve and restore Arctic ice to slow climate change and extend the window of opportunity to preserve the Earth’s environments and ecosystems. Under her direction, the team will expand research partnerships, increase funding and establish international policy and governance for the adoption of AIP’s proven methods at scale by local communities, governments, and global institutions. 

“With global warming advancing quicker and more dramatically than expected, we all have a responsibility to take meaningful action and become part of the solution,” said Eros. “I am thrilled to join our dedicated and passionate group of experts who understand the urgency of our global crisis and have identified a potential solution that, with further research, can safely preserve and restore Arctic ice.” 

In agreement with a recent report by the National Academy of Science, AIP believes that a major research and development effort is urgently needed to fully understand the safety, effectiveness, cost and potential unintended consequences of currently proposed climate intervention approaches.

“Once implemented at scale, our approach will provide the much-needed time to complete the global transition to more sustainable energy and conservation solutions,” said Steve Zornetzer, vice-chair at AIP and retired associate center director for research and technology at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. “Interventions like AIP’s can have a significant impact in reducing the worst of climate risks but must be accompanied by rapid decarbonization in order to have a lasting effect. There is a limited window of opportunity to intervene.”

Recent research indicates that the Arctic could be free of sea ice in summer by 2030. Losing the reflective power of Arctic sea ice will lead to levels of warming and sea rise that pose an extreme threat to humanity. With full funding, AIP expects to prove the efficacy and safety of increasing ice reflectivity in five years. That is, in time for large-scale adoption by international coalitions to avert an even greater crisis. 

To demonstrate and subsequently influence global adoption of a safe, effective and timely  ice preservation methodology, AIP partners with preeminent research institutions to ensure the highest quality testing and public confidence in outcomes. AIP openly publishes its research findings in peer-reviewed scientific publications and shares its progress through partnerships and strategic communications outreach with Arctic experts and Indigineous communities around the world.

Eros brings more than 30 years of executive leadership experience for regional and national organizations. She has extensive experience and a proven track record developing and executing impact-driven strategies, transforming and scaling organizations, fundraising, accelerating growth of programs, activating creative collaborative partnerships, and ensuring responsible business practices.

Prior to joining AIP, Eros served as president at Carondelet High School, chief executive officer at Ronald McDonald House Charities Bay Area, president and chief executive officer at The Kidney TRUST, executive director at Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego and a change management consultant to dozens of nonprofit and mission-based organizations. Before that Eros enjoyed multiple positions in marketing and communications. She completed the Executive Leadership Program at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, earned her master’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of San Diego and her bachelor’s degree in Journalism from San Diego State University. 

About Arctic Ice Project
Arctic Ice Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit leading the global effort to stop Arctic ice melt using a safe, localized approach. By collaborating with top scientific and research organizations in the climate field, AIP is focused on the most promising solution to date, a novel materials approach that proposes to deploy a thin layer of very small hollow glass microspheres across strategically chosen small regions of the Arctic to improve the reflectivity of sea ice, mimicking natural processes to reflect solar energy out of our atmosphere and restore the Arctic. In addition to its ongoing technical work, the team is working to establish international policy, governance, and funding for the adoption of its solution in a manner that ensures involvement and consent from local communities, governments, and global institutions. For more information, please visit Follow Arctic Ice Project: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter.



Media Inquiries:

  1. Jordan Payne


Media and Marketing

The Arctic is in Crisis

The Arctic is in Crisis

Steve Zornetzer, PhD and AIP Board Member 

I am going to start out this report with something that scientists normally don’t do and that is to share some feelings with you. I’m scared, I’m anxious, I’m frustrated and I’m angry. Political leaders and humankind in general have not taken climate change and global warming issues more seriously than they have in the past.  We are losing ground on global warming. It is advancing much faster than we had hoped. We have not abided by the Paris Accords or any of the commitments we have made as governments around the world to begin weaning ourselves from a carbon economy and from fossil fuels and therefore climate change continues to advance. We have only a short window of time to act.  

Our planet’s climate is changing due to human-caused disruption of the balance between solar radiation absorption (heat gain) and heat loss into space. Atmospheric absorption of surface thermal radiation has been increasing due to huge emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases by humankind into the Earth’s atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial revolution. These gases, commonly called “greenhouse gases” (GHG), trap heat in the atmosphere that would otherwise be reflected back into space. The net effect is a reduction in planetary heat loss while solar radiation heat gain continues, thus warming the planet. In its simplest form, this imbalance is the root cause of global warming (GW).

So, the question is, how do we, as the species that caused this unintended GW problem, solve the problem? Before addressing this question directly, as we will below, it is important to understand the consequences of doing nothing. The adverse impacts of GW and associated climate change are undeniably dangerous: intensified destructive storms, droughts, wildfires, sea level rise, and an intense decrease in biodiversity caused by habitat degradation. Together, these consequences threaten the material safety and food security of a growing human population. Doing nothing to slow and potentially reverse GW is not an option. Human and economic suffering will be catastrophic. Cost estimates for climate change-related disasters and associated infrastructure, agricultural, economic and human health impacts by 2040 are staggering. In just the next two decades, these costs are estimated to be $54 trillion world-wide. Today it is estimated that the Arctic is warming more than three times faster than the rest of the planet. This is the Arctic crisis.

At the Arctic Ice Project (AIP), we believe that regional surface albedo modification (SAM), will strategically increase the reflectivity of Arctic sea ice to preserve and extend its persistence. SAM, if proven safe and effective, could be deployed with few or no unintended consequences. The more ice that persists during Arctic summer months, the more solar reflectivity and the less planetary heating. In recent decades, Arctic sea and land ice have been melting at frighteningly fast rates. This ice loss is reducing the planet’s reflectivity and simultaneously increasing heat gain through greater absorption of solar energy by dark Arctic Ocean waters during summer when the sun shines 24 hours/day. This accelerating loss of sea ice is contributing to the alarmingly rapid warming of the Arctic. Not many years ago, Arctic warming and sea ice loss was thought to be a consequence of GW. Today, scientists now know that Arctic warming has become so great that it is now a contributor to GW. Some scientists estimate as much as 25% of all GW would be contributed by complete loss of summer Arctic sea ice. Loss of Arctic sea ice engages two feedback mechanisms that promote accelerated warming. First, loss of summer sea ice reduces the reflectivity of the surface allowing more solar energy to be absorbed by the ocean, leading to more heating which in turn leads to further sea ice loss. Second, sea ice provides a thermal barrier protecting the cold Arctic air from the relatively warmer ocean below, effectively insulating the colder air from the warmer ocean water. Loss of sea ice removes this insulation and the ocean warms the air which in turn melts more ice. These two positive feedback loops contribute to “Arctic Amplification”, i.e., accelerated warming. 

The objective of sea ice SAM is to break these feedback loops, restore sea ice, mitigate warming over a large Arctic region, and slow GW. AIP’s innovation is to increase the reflectivity of young ice by applying a very thin layer of reflective hollow silica glass microspheres onto the surface of the ice. This could increase the reflectivity of ice by about 50 percent, reducing the absorption of solar radiation. The material used in this treatment is nontoxic, consisting mostly of silica (the primary material in sand, and most rocks). Bio-toxicological testing to date has shown no adverse impact on wildlife. AIP believes, in agreement with a recent National Academy of Science report, that a major research and development effort is urgently needed to fully understand the safety, effectiveness, cost and potential unintended consequences of currently proposed climate intervention approaches. We need every effective and safe tool in the toolbox to be ready for use. The clock is ticking and the Arctic crisis contributes significantly to the GW crisis, looming larger and larger each year we do nothing. We must act! Doing nothing is not an option! We appreciate your support and encouragement as we make progress towards providing an effective mitigation to GW.

Simulating the Effects of AIP’s Deployment in Beaufort Gyre Through Climate Modeling

Simulating the Effects of AIP’s Deployment in Beaufort Gyre Through Climate Modeling

Anthony Strawa, PhD

The overall objective of this project is to simulate reflective material deployment in the Beaufort Gyre and evaluate its regional and global climate impacts. The Beaufort Gyre (BG) is an area in the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska and Canada that is known as a sea ice nursery, allowing young ice to mature into multi-year ice.

The project will be executed by Climformatics with Arctic Ice Project oversight and collaboration with Dr. Smedsrud of U. Bergen and the Bjerkens Centre for Climate Research in Norway.

The AIP treatment is modeled by perturbing  the sea ice albedo in the targeted treatment area (Fig.1) using the latest version of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) fully coupled climate model named CESM 2.0. CESM 2.0 is one of several global climate models (GCM) used by the scientific community to produce estimates that support the United Nations’ IPCC studies. This model was chosen because it represents the Arctic climate better than other GCMs. The model configuration includes atmospheric, land, sea ice and ocean components. This study models the period 2000-2050 with two 10-member ensembles of climate model simulations: reference and BG perturbation cases. These climate simulations are transient with evolving Greenhouse Gas (GHG) forcing from observed (historical) data sets from 2000 to 2015 and future climate scenario Shared Socioeconomic Pathways SSP2-4.5 from 2015-2050.

Our hypothesis is that brightening the sea ice in the BG core will thicken the sea ice and consequently spread basin wide by the BG circulation. We will quantify the amount of sea ice volume increase per year, assess the delay in reaching the state of a summer ice free Arctic, evaluate the efficacy of the albedo enhancement in the BG region and compare it to earlier simulations of Arctic-wide and Fram Strait targeted applications.

NCAR diagnostics packages for the atmospheric and sea ice model components will be used to analyze each ensemble member individually (20 diagnostics runs), as well as, for the differences of the two main cases (BG – CONTROL) (10 diagnostics runs). The diagnostics analysis includes calculation and visualization of monthly, seasonal and annual climatologies of many variables: air temperature, humidity, winds, pressure, clouds, precipitation, and etc. at different vertical atmospheric levels, as well as, water cycle and radiation budget components at the surface and at the top of the atmosphere. An analysis using analytic tools written specifically for this project will be performed focused on the changes in the Arctic radiation budget, atmospheric dynamics and ice cover due to the BG albedo enhancement. The efficacy of the albedo enhancement technology will be estimated by comparing its impacts (ice volume/ice area/ice thickness changes) per square kilometer of treated area compared to the results from our previous simulations: Arctic-wide, and Fram Strait.

The project will result in at least one scientific paper submitted for peer-reviewed publication within 12 months from project start. 

Polar map showing the Beaufort Gyre treatment area. The arrows show typical ocean currents. Note the circular vortex motion in the Gyre.

Polar map showing the Beaufort Gyre treatment area. The arrows show typical ocean currents. Note the circular vortex motion in the Gyre.

Research at SINTEF, Status Report July 6, 2022

Research at SINTEF, Status Report July 6, 2022

Gary Wolff, PhD Research at SINTEF

SINTEF researcher

SINTEF Ocean Lab, located in Trondheim Norway, and part of one of the largest research organizations in Europe, is evaluating what will likely happen to Hollow Glass Microspheres (HGMs) if deployed in the Arctic Ocean, and what impact they might have on the Arctic ecosystem. 

The ‘fate and transport’ tests on three types of HGMs are complete. Algae and bacteria did not grow well on the surface of the HGMs, so they will probably stay reflective for years in the Ocean. Two types of HGMs mostly continued to float when tumbled repeatedly in seawater or repeatedly frozen and then thawed. Yet even these two types of HGMs broke at a modest rate. A modest amount of breakage is good since it means that the cooling benefit of spreading HGMs will last many years, but is also a naturally reversible effect. Greenhouse gas emissions have to decline and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere need to be removed as soon as possible. HGM deployment is intended to ‘buy time’ for that to occur; but we do not want to permanently affect the Arctic Ocean. 

Next, three species essential to the Arctic Ocean ecosystem will be exposed to the best performing type of HGM from the fate and transport studies. Billions of Calanus, a microscopic creature, selectively filter feed small bits of algae and other living things near the ocean surface. They are in turn an essential food source for small fish. Will Calanus eat whole or broken HGMs? And if they do, will HGMs kill them or slow their rate of growth? Or pass through without harm? Blue mussels live near shore and also filter feed, but they eat whatever is in the water they filter. Will whole and broken HGMs pass through blue mussels harmlessly?  Polychaetes (worms) live in the mud at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. Because broken HGMs will fall to the bottom, SINTEF will see if there is any harm to Polychaetes that eat broken HGMs, such as lower growth or reproductive rates. 

The fate and transport, and biological tests, should be ready to submit to one or more peer-reviewed journals by the end of 2022. These results, if positive, will support permit applications for field testing. 

But the results will be valuable even if they are not entirely positive. All HGMs are not the same. So although the best types of HGMs now available are being tested, it may be necessary to ask manufacturers to produce slightly different types of HGMs that are safer. For example, if broken HGMs cause problems but whole ones do not, manufacturers might be able to make an HGM that breaks like safety glass into pieces without sharp edges.  We could then test the re-engineered HGM for safety.