Fighting Water Scarcity with Artificial Glaciers



As natural glaciers disappear, engineers are building artificial glaciers. This project is being implemented in the arid Ladakh region of the Himalayas, reports Science Focus. A coalition of researchers from the University of Aberdeen’s Cryosphere and Climate Change research group, Indian universities, and locals in the region are creating artificial glaciers, called ice stupas, to provide a crucial water source for farming communities. 

In Ladakh, which only receives about 10 centimeters of precipitation each year, glacial melt is essential for crops and survival. But as climate change worsens, glaciers are receding at alarming rates. To replace this water source, engineers build the ice stupas by piping fresh water from higher altitudes and channeling it to a vertical pipe at the base of the structure. The pipe then pumps steam over a wood and steel framework, over which it freezes and amalgamates, creating a reserve of freshwater to be used when streams dry up later in the year.

This innovation may ameliorate the effects of climate change, but it will not be sufficient to sustain communities if glacial melt continues at its current pace. It does, however, buy these communities some time for them to adapt. 

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