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Artificial Glaciers
by Ciril Jazbec


Mountains are the water towers of the world. They provide freshwater to half the world’s population for irrigation, industry, domestic use, and hydropower. But mountains are also the most sensitive to climate change. Mountain communities have to be to first to do the work of adapting to and mitigating the impact of, the challenges directly connected to climate change.

I came across the Ice Stupas–mini artificial glaciers–a brilliant local grassroot innovation that solved a water problem for the communities living in the Phyang Valley in Ladakh, a region in the northwest India.

While the region has always suffered from water shortage, the situation became even more dire with the glacier retreat in recent decades, especially in the springtime when every drop of water counts. The ingenuity of Sonam Wangchuk, a Ladakhi engineer, innovator, and education reformist, brought about a wind of hope. His innovative Ice Stupas can store winter meltwater, then slowly release it for the growing season in early spring when water is most needed.