More than four million people live above the Arctic Circle, mostly in small coastal communities. These populations have been forced to endure enormous cultural shifts, as fifty percent of the Earth’s Arctic sea ice has depleted over the past five decades. As the white reflective sea ice melts into dark water, solar radiation is absorbed, raising the ocean temperatures by as much as seven degrees. With a greater portion of the ocean uncovered, storm surges become more intense, creating significant waves that continue to erode the delicate ice that remains.
A vast majority of Arctic communities are built upon permafrost; A thick subsurface of soil that stays frozen throughout the year. As the Arctic sea ice cover retracts, the permafrost coast becomes vulnerable to storms, erosion, and the thawing of frozen soil. Loss of coastal permafrost has a devastating impact on the local communities and the greater environment. Ground becomes unstable, foundations collapse, fresh water is polluted, ecosystems are jeopardized and toxic emissions of Methane and CO2 are released into the atmosphere. This has and will continue to have devastating planetary impacts.
Ice Farming along the Arctic coast has the potential to generate a restorative landscape barrier built of ice to protect coastal permafrost and its surrounding ecosystem. This design intervention proposes a way to expedite the process of freezing water by leveraging the natural environment of the Arctic. The idea is rooted in the concept of water freezing at a higher rate when exposed to a larger surface area of cold air. The Ice Pods bring cold air below the current sea ice level aiming to freeze more water, creating ice sheets that can last throughout the summer months. The Ice Pods are launched along the arctic coastline where sea ice is especially needed to protect coastal permafrost and its inhabitants. Onboard computer systems paired with scanning equipment will allow the Ice Pod to survey its surroundings and self-organize into an optimal formation for ice production. Once in place, the Ice Pod releases its anchor and deploys its malleable coils into an extended position, increasing surface area below the waterline to begin the freezing process. Cold air is ingested into the Ice Pod and distributed through the conductive coils to enhance ice buildup. Once an optimal amount of ice is built up, the coils are quickly heated and retracted to release the ice. This process is repeated throughout the fall and winter months. During the spring and summer, the pods recharge using their translucent solar panel system. When thawing occurs in the summer months creating unpredictable ice conditions for the inhabitants, the caps serve as guiding beacons with lights indicating safety levels. The Ice Pods optimize ice growth, increase coastal safety and react to the natural environment to produce a restorative architecture.