Fake Glaciers for Real Needs

Alejandro Alvarez
November 27th 2016

Glaciers around the world are melting due to global warming, that is not news. If you live in a city, the effects of climate change may not be visible yet, but in villages and communities highly dependent on regular seasonal cycles, a severe drought or a sudden flood make a huge difference on the wellbeing of its habitants. This is what motivated engineer Sonam Wangchuk to create fake glaciers that are already improving the life of people in Ladakh, Himalayas.


To make this artificial glaciers the only thing they needed to do was to canalize the meltwater from nearby streams into a vertical 30 meters (98 feet) pole. The pressure accumulated by the difference in altitude generated a fountain that froze into mini glaciers.

This solution is astoundingly simple in execution and also resonates with the local culture, since the final form of the ice resembles the traditional buddhist shrines known as stupas. But instead of bringing spiritual relief, this structures slowly melt until late spring, a time when fresh water is highly needed.

The water is not only for drinking, it is also used for the irrigation of crops and for reforestation. This fake glaciers will turn the cold deserts of the Himalayas into a greener place to live.

Source: Rolex Awards

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