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Giant screen traps cold air to slow melting of glaciers

Latest update : 2008-08-16

German researchers have set up a large screen in the Swiss Alps in hopes of trapping cold air over glaciers. The scientists expect the structure to slow, if not stop, the melting of glaciers in the area.

German researchers trying to slow melting glaciers have set up a large screen in the Swiss Alps that they hope will trap cold air over the icy mass, Johannes Gutenberg University said Thursday.

"We hope our installations will bring about a net cooling of the area. And if the melt is not stopped, that it is at least slowed," the project's leader, geography professor Hans-Joachim Fuchs, said in a statement.

The structure, 15 metres long and three metres high (49 feet by 10 feet), was raised in the middle of the Rhone glacier in Switzerland's southwestern Valais region by 27 students from the German university.

The purpose of the screen -- which sits at an altitude of 2,300 metres -- is to keep cold winds over the glacier.

Already successfully tested in a laboratory, the experiment will be studied on site until August 21, according to the university, located in the German city of Mainz.

Date created : 2008-08-14