Ladakh region, located in the north of India. It is unique by its climate where Arctic and desert conditions meet, and temperatures range from -35 °C in winter to 35 °C in summer. In the remote mountain parts of the land, agriculture is the core of the economy.
Local farmers have been using water from glaciers for farming for centuries. Today, the global climate change has put the agriculture in danger: due to the global warming, the glaciers provide not enough water for irrigation during the most critical spring months.
In January 2014, students and teachers from the local SECMOL school campus started working on the project called Ice Stupa. These are artificial glaciers named after traditional Buddhist stupas of Tibet because if the visual resemblance.
The principle of creation of these glaciers is simple. A pipeline connects the high-mountain river to a village that is located at the lower altitude. The communicating vessels make the water in the village rise from the pipeline to the level of the river. This water freezes in winter, taking the form of a cone or a stupa. The whole system does not require pumps or electricity. In spring, water from the ice stupa can be used for farming until more water comes from the mountains in summer.
For the success of the project, structural design and calculations were essential. As Sonam Wangchuk, the project leader, explains, one ice stupa that is 20 meters wide and 40 meters high, would save 16 million liters of water. The area exposed to the sun would be five times larger, if the same amount of water is frozen as a two-meter thick flat ice field. That is why the sun and the warm spring wind would melt it approximately five times faster.
The system dynamics simulation model available at RunTheModel.com imitates the forming and melting of an ice stupa based on the data on temperature and water available.
To easily understand the model, we recommend you to watch the video from the modeler:
The team launched a crowdfunding program to collect money for project implementation. The final project goal is to use the artificial glaciers to get enough water to plant the entire nearby Phyang monastery with trees (around 6 square miles).