Michael Wolovick ’09 Proposes ‘Radical’ Solution to Curb Sea-level Rise

Michael Wolovick ’09, a glaciology postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University, is investigating whether it might be possible to geo-engineer a solution to prevent the collapse of massive glaciers— and so fend off catastrophic sea-level rise.

Wolovick’s idea is to build stabilizing underwater walls at the mouths of some of the most dangerous glaciers. If it works, his plan could give “people time to adapt to climate change and possibly reverse it,” The Atlantic reports. “Even in the most pessimistic scenarios…it still buys humanity some time, extending the life of the glacier by 400 or 500 years.”

But Wolovick emphasizes that even if his plan were to work, humans still need to reduce emissions. “Rising sea levels are not the only negative consequence of climate change,” he says, “and glacial geo-engineering doesn’t do anything about thermal expansion, much less ocean acidification and heat waves.”