Himalayas: the one who creates artificial glaciers

In this region of the world straddling India and Nepal, the inhabitants are faced with a major water supply problem. Indeed, the melting of seasonal ice is disrupted by global warming. An Indian scientist tries to solve their problem in a way that is as original as it is surprising.

If the scientist engineer and activist Sonam Wangchuk feels concerned by the cause of the Himalayan villagers, it is because he himself is from the region, having been born in UleyTokpo near the village of Alchi in the Indian state of Jammu -and-Kashmir.

For several years, Himalayan villagers have been facing a major water shortage. The latter have always relied on the seasonal melting of the ice (during the summer), assuring them of an abundant supply of quality drinking water. The fact is that the glaciers have seen their size reduced and now they are too far from the villages that depend on them.

Sonam Wangchuk had the very ingenious idea of ​​injecting water into the bed of streams during the winter months to produce glaciers. This way of creating artificial glaciers is nicknamed « ice stupa », a name in homage to the Buddhist temples bearing the same name.

Indeed, the type of glacier obtained really looks like an ice palace. The first structure of its kind is more than 20 meters high and contains millions of liters of drinking water after being formed thanks to the contribution of 2.3 km of pipes. The project was made possible thanks to a crowdfunding campaign. This initiative, which is intended to multiply, allows locals to find a correct supply during the summer. The water used during this very dry season is used for drinking, cultivating and watering the vegetation.

(Photo credit: Rolex Awards for Enterprise)
(Photo credit: Rolex Awards for Enterprise)

Disrupted melting ice is now a global problem, as many high-altitude, dry regions in the summer rely on this type of slow-release natural water reservoir for life.

However, the solution found by Sonam Wangchuk can only be temporary. Indeed, the scientific community estimates that most of the glaciers in a mountain system like Everest will have disappeared by 2100. Worse still: at the same time, it is possible that more than 70% of the glaciers of all the Himalayas which will have melted according to the European Geoscience Union.

Sonam Wangchuk is one of five winners of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise competition for lifetime achievement.

Sources: Motherboard – The Quint

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