TRILLIONS of tonnes of artificial snow could be used to save a giant Antarctic ice sheet from sliding into the sea.

Scientists are concerned that the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet would threaten many cities, including New York, with catastrophic flooding.

They say pumping ocean water on to coastal regions surrounding parts of the ice sheet and converting it into snow may prevent its meltdown, but have warned the project would need “unprecedented” feats of engineering.

Study co-author Dr Johannes Feldmann said: “We are fully aware of the disruptive character such an intervention would have.Uplifting, desalinating and heating the ocean water as well as powering the snow canons would require an amount of electric power in the order of several ten thousand high-end wind turbines.

“Putting up such a wind farm and the further infrastructure in the Amundsen Sea and the massive extraction of ocean water itself would essentially mean losing a unique natural reserve.”

Feldmann said the pros and cons would have to be considered, but that it was scientists’ “duty to inform society about each and every potential option to counter the problems ahead”.