My story is based on a Glacial Climate setting or an Ice Age. However the transition is gradual and humanity was given some time to adapt. The transition began in our real-world technological equivalent of Renaissance Period around the 15th century. Going by the same timeline, the story is set in 2100`s, thus it has already been in progress for 600 years.

Given that Industrial Warming has not started until the late 17th century to the early 18th century and that the process gains momentum over time, are underground cities more suitable than surface cities for progressive glacial conditions? If not, what forms of habitation are plausible?

  • $\begingroup$ What "Industrial Warming" in the 17th century? And how come that the Little Ice Age extended from the 16th to the 19th century? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Apr 11, 2018 at 7:44
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP Read the text carefully. The question mentioned what it called Industrial Warming starting circa late 17th to early 18th centuries. This is the rise of the Industrial Revolution and the beginning of the cumulative global warming. It wasn't suggesting there was an "Industrial Warming", the Little Ice Age notwithstanding. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Apr 11, 2018 at 8:11
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android: No "warming" of any kind, be it industrial, commercial or political, started in the 17th century; on the contrary, "cooling" continued. Anthropic effect on the climate began to accelerate, that's true. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Apr 11, 2018 at 8:22
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP You don't seem to understand the meaning of "start". Not that there was evident warming, but that process had begun. It's there in the question. Stop playing sophistry and re-read it. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Apr 11, 2018 at 13:13
  • $\begingroup$ First questions for all "underground cities" questions: Where will centuries of food and energy and clean water come from? Where will centuries of sewage and trash go? Those are hard questions to realistically answer...which is why many populations seem likely to migrate rather than dig. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Apr 11, 2018 at 13:23

1 Answer 1


The case for above ground dwelling:

It is simply far easier to build a house above ground then to dig below and then worry about groundwater, ventilation, and the fact that at some time you might live beneath a glacier. OTOH, the climate will (according to an Eric fagan book an the last ice age whose title I forgot) be drier, maybe even sunnier (not in your case with the particles etc.). I'd expect realy slow movement away from the glaciated mountains and onto the, due to lower sea levels newly existing, coastal plains. Some might even adopt a semi nomadic lifestyle - cheaply produced houses from compressed earth bricks that are left after a generation or so, only as much property as can be actually moved.

The basic ice age nomad package may well consist of a press for compressed earth bricks and a ventilation/heat exchange system for their temporary (sort-of) passivhaus!

Existing harbour cities will likely remain intact (coasts are glaciated last, if at all, unless you live in Norway) and gain interesting nwe real estate due to lowering sea levels.

Given that the soviet union managed to move whole factories ahead of the Wehrmacht and behind the Urals, I suggest that a sheer production facility can always "outrun" a glacier.

The case for below ground dwelling:

This allows you to stay in one place, which in itself is not worth much when the place is covered by ice. However, you can't move mines anywhere, so I'd find it reasonable when major production facilities stay near the resources they consume. This could mean to move factories into old excavated mines. Minig is hard for reasons stated above, so I really think this will only happen where coal or ores are mined anyway or where the ground is exceptionally soft rock, like carst areas.

Our below ground areas will likely use a combo of geothermal heat, solar power and fossiles/nuclear to supply their energy and to keep a patch above icefree. I'd expect them to have many greenhouses with cold adapted plants sitting on the ice surounding the city.

  • $\begingroup$ /This allows you to stay in one place, which in itself is not worth much when the place is covered by ice./ - yep. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Apr 11, 2018 at 14:26

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