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This Planet is a series of short video stories that draw on the best new videos, awesome graphics, and surprising facts about climate, energy and innovation.

Desert On Ice

Video Archive

This Planet is a series of 90-second video stories that draw on the best new videos, awesome graphics, and surprising facts about climate, energy and innovation.

Desert On Ice

Evelyn Messinger

See This Planet Chronicle for more on the "Ice Stupa" and engineering a future.

In January 2014 students at a school in the Ladakh region of Northern India worked with engineer Sonam Wangchuk  on a project they called the Ice Stupa. Their aim was to find a solution to the water crisis facing Ladakhi farmers in the critical planting months of April and May before the natural glacial melt waters start flowing. This video tells the story of this key innovation in Sonam Wangchuk's own words.

By the end of February they had successfully built a two-story prototype of an ice pyramid that could store roughly 150,000 liters of winter stream water which nobody used.  They called it an Ice Stupa because the shape resembled the traditional  stupas of Ladakh and Tibet.

As the natural glaciers become smaller and smaller in size, there is much less water in early spring. Then they release too much water during the hotter summers, making the glaciers even smaller. With these ice stupas the fresh snow and ice in the mountains that melt even in winter, and so are wasted, can be frozen and stored until spring, when farmers need water the most. 
 


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