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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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Artificial Glaciers to Help Farmers
19 October 1998 7:30 pm
Glacier melt is the most plentiful source of water for the peasants of Ladakh, who eke out a living in a high desert region of the Indian Himalayas. But it's not always reliable. Now a local Indian civil engineer has mastered the art of making "artificial glaciers" that deliver water when it's needed most--in the early spring, right after farmers sow their single crop of wheat, barley, or peas.
Chewang Norphel, 62, a retired civil engineer, has made five artificial glaciers ranging in size from 60 to 300 meters long to harvest water in five Ladakh villages. His technique is disarmingly simple. In the fall, water from an existing stream is piped to a shady part of the valley. There it flows down a mountainside, where it is trapped at regular intervals by small stone embankments. The water soon freezes, forming a thick sheet of ice down the mountainside. In the spring, the artificial glacier melts, and its water--which comes from a lower altitude than natural glacier water--arrives just in time for the growing season. The largest glacier, about 17,000 cubic meters, can supply irrigation water for a 700-person village.
Norphel's work was recognized earlier this month at a National Conference on the Potential of Water Harvesting in New Delhi. Conference organizer Anil Agarwal, a mechanical engineer and director of the Center for Science and Environment, praised Norphel's "simple but elegant technology," and Indian President K. R. Narayanan hailed him as the "invisible rural engineer."