Scientists develop ice stupas to solve the water crisis in the high desert of the Himalaya

Scientists from the University of Aberdeen have an idea to solve the water crisis in the high desert of the Himalayas. There are working on a project to overcome the glacier shrinkage in Ladakh. As per the latest reports, scientists are developing glacier-like structures called ‘ice stupas’ in an attempt to address the Himalayan water crisis.

The ice stupas were first developed in 2013 by engineer Sonam Wangchuk in Ladakh but it was not fully completed. The scientists are now monitoring the work progress and declared that these stupas would definitely help to solve the Himalayas ’ water crisis.

Ice Stupas have been built in Ladakh, northern India, which is one of the most barren places in the world. It is believed that when the stupas are built in the region, it releases meltwater in the spring which is used for growing crops. This might help the problem to be solved that most villages in the Ladakh region have severe water shortages. The water shortages occur especially in the months of April and May and this is the time of year when people compete for water to irrigate newly planted crops. 

Himalayan water shortage 

The water stress in the urban Himalayas is due to a combination of many factors. Management of the springshed, distribution lines, and infrastructure are some of them. Climate change has emerged as a force multiplier as it further puts stress on the system. Most villages in the region experience acute water shortage in few months and it may extend to a long duration. The main reason, scientists believe is climate change which is causing natural glaciers to disappear. So because of these reasons interventions such as ice stupas have become much more necessary in the region.

Frequent and extended droughts in the region have made crops vanish and therefore the lives of the people living in the coldest, driest parts of the world. “Our research has shown that mountain glaciers in Ladakh are retreating at an increasing rate, Glaciers have been found to be good and reliable indicators of climate change. Put in the simplest terms, as temperatures rise, glaciers shrink and may eventually disappear,” said Prof Matteo Spagnolo, from the university team.

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The working of the ice stupas is also done in a quite professional way. The stupas which can release millions of litres of water each year are built near to the area where water is needed most. Firstly, Pipes are buried under the ground which is below the frost line, before rising vertically in the last segment. The difference in height, temperature, and gravitational force make the pressure in the pipes to be build up. The stream water then flows up and out from the pipe’s raised tip like a fountain. A pyramid-like structure will be formed when a sub-zero air freezes the water into the area.