Thursday, 15 July 2010

Painting mountains white....

Plain daft, or a brilliant solution? You decide. I refer to an experiment in the Peruvian Andes, funded to the tune of £135,000 by the World Bank, to increase the albedo of a mountain by painting it with whitewash. The enormity of the task may be something akin to the Forth Bridge, but it is being accomplished with some speed. The paint, a mixture of lime, industrial egg white and water, is simply splashed onto the surface by boiler-suited workers and an impressive two hectares (68 more to go) have been completed in just two weeks. The principal is not new; Alaskans have tried painting road surfaces white to preserve permafrost, and roofs are being painted white in the U.S. to minimise the local impact of global warming. The aim of the project is to increase the cool micro-climate around the peak in order to 're-grow' the glacier that covered the 4756m mountain top many years ago. There is considerable sceptisim about the wisdom of the approach, but only time will tell if it will work, and if the idea might be valid elsewhere.

Image BBC