Switzerland Has a Unique Way of Trying to Save a Prized Glacier: Wrap It in Blankets

Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

With the balmy summer sun beating down on you, the last thing you’d want to do is bundle up in a thick, cozy blanket. For glaciers, it’s a little different. Every summer, a Swiss group swaths the Rhône glacier in enormous fleece blankets to block the sun from melting it.

Because the blankets are white, the glacier still looks relatively normal from afar. But the color wasn’t chosen for aesthetic purposes: As Live Science reports, white helps reflect light before it hits the ice. Though glaciologist David Volken told Agence France-Presse in 2015 that he believes the blankets could slow the damage by up to 70 percent, he also acknowledged that it’s a stall tactic, not a permanent solution—on a hot day, 3 to 5 inches of the glacier can still slip away.

For Switzerland, concern for the future of this particular glacier extends beyond its environmental implications. Beneath the grayish surface of the Rhône glacier lies an otherworldly, blue ice grotto which draws thousands of visitors each year. According to Switzerland’s national tourism website, the 330-foot-long tunnel is redrilled annually and has been a tourist attraction since 1870, when the Furka pass road made it easily accessible by foot. 

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Fleece blankets are just one innovative method scientists have proposed to combat glacial melt all over the world. As Atlas Obscura reports, John C. Moore, chief scientist at Beijing Normal University’s College of Global Change and Earth System Science, and his colleagues suggested separating a Greenland glacier from the warmer water that erodes its icy edges by creating a barrier of gravel and sand between them. Another idea was to simply vacuum away that water completely. Johannes Feldmann, a scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and his team proposed fortifying the West Antarctic ice sheet by turning 8 trillion tons of ocean water into snow and blasting it onto the sheet. Founder and CEO of the nonprofit Ice911 Leslie Field’s project is similar to the ice blankets—she’s currently testing a reflective material made from microscopic glass balls that could keep ice cool beneath the sun.

While some people are working on temporary fixes, others are finding ways to honor the glaciers we’ve already lost to climate change—like this plaque for the Icelandic glacier Okjökull. Let’s hope the Rhône glacier doesn’t see the same end anytime soon.

[h/t Live Science]

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

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Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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Why Do We Have Daylight Saving Time?

Patrick Daxenbichler/iStock via Getty Images
Patrick Daxenbichler/iStock via Getty Images

As you drag your time-confused body out of bed at what seems like a shockingly late hour next week, you might find yourself wondering why on Earth we even have Daylight Saving Time.

Though Benjamin Franklin was mostly joking when he suggested it as a money-saving tactic in a satirical essay from 1784, others who later proposed the idea were totally serious. In 1895, entomologist George Vernon Hudson pitched it to the Royal Society in New Zealand as a way to prolong daylight for bug-hunting purposes, and William Willett spent the early 1900s lobbying British Parliament to adopt an 80-minute time jump in April; neither man was successful.

During World War I, however, the need to conserve energy—which, at the time, chiefly came from coal—increased, and Germany was the first to give Daylight Saving Time the green light in 1916. Britain and other European countries quickly followed suit, and the U.S. entered the game in 1918. The practice was dropped almost everywhere after the war, but it was widely resurrected just a few decades later during World War II.

After that war ended, the U.S. abandoned DST yet again—sort of. Without any official legislation, the country devolved into a jumble of conflicting practices. According to History.com, Iowa had 23 different pairs of start and end dates for DST in 1965, while other areas of the country didn’t observe DST at all.

In 1966, Congress put an end to the chaos by passing the Uniform Time Act, which specified that DST would begin at 2:00 a.m. on the last Sunday in April, and end at the same time on the last Sunday in October. (The Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended DST by shifting these dates to the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November.) It didn’t require that all states and territories actually observe DST, and some of them didn’t—Arizona and Hawaii still don’t.

Throughout its long, lurching history, the supposed merits of Daylight Saving Time have always been about cutting down on electricity usage and conserving energy in general. But, as Live Science reports, experts disagree on whether this actually works. Some studies suggest that while the extra daylight hour might decrease lighting-related electricity use, it also means people could be keeping their air conditioners running for long enough that it increases the overall usage of electricity.

If your extended night’s sleep seems to have left you with a little extra time on your hands, see how DST affects your part of the country here.

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