Successful Ice Dusting at Fairbanks, Alaska, 1966

by R. Gordon Cook,
Mason D. Wade, Jr.,

Serial Information: Journal of the Hydraulics Division, 1968, Vol. 94, Issue 1, Pg. 31-42

Document Type: Journal Paper


The ice and snow cover of the Chena River was dusted with coal dust and fly ash in the spring of 1966 to increase the absorption of solar energy and hasten melting. Because of a near-record snowfall during the winter of 1965-1966, a good deal of concern was felt for the flood damage which would result if an ice jam were to form at the mouth of the Chena River just downstream from Fairbanks. It was hoped that dusting would increase the absorption of the solar radiation to sufficiently weaken and melt the ice to prevent a jam. Theoretically, dusting could increase the radiation absorbed at breakup time in Fairbanks enough to melt an additional 2 cm of ice per day. Measurements of melting rates made in the dusted and clean sections of the river and observations of the river during breakup showed that dusting apparently had a significant beneficial effect. Because of its specific nature and lack of control, this experiment cannot be considered conclusive.

Subject Headings: Snowmelt | Rivers and streams | Solar radiation | Ice | Coal | Absorption | Solar power | High-rise buildings | Alaska | United States

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