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A Himalayan Village Builds Artificial Glaciers to Survive Global Warming [Slide Show]

As glaciers disappear in the rain shadow of the Himalayas, one man is helping farmers irrigate their fields by storing water in an innovative way

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Success

Norphel is continually improving his design, adding more glaciers higher up and near different villages. "Water is the most important thing we have. Without water, we have no food; no life," he says.....[ More ]

Cattle Feed

Thanks to Norphel's man-made glacier, the villagers now have enough grass to store for their animals. It means that they no longer have to let herds in search of grazing patches roam far into the mountains, where they are easy prey for snow leopards and wolves.....[ More ]

Excess

"We have so much [wheat] yield now that we are even selling some," says Tashi Angmo, who lives in Stakmo. "People who moved away are starting to return to the village because there is hope now."....[ More ]

Harvesting

Harvests increased threefold in Stakmo, and villagers began planting more than one crop per year.....[ More ]

Greening the Valley

Previously barren fields in Stakmo were turned green by the stored water from the artificial glacier.....[ More ]

Irrigation

Carefully constructed irrigation channels were built by Stakmo villagers under Norphel's guidance.....[ More ]

Glacial Flow

During the crucial sowing season, the artificial glacier began melting, releasing much-needed water to the villagers.....[ More ]

Artificial Glacier

During winter, the glacier formed as planned, storing water that would otherwise have flowed away past the village of Stakmo.....[ More ]

Storage

Villagers helped Norphel to build retaining walls for a storage reservoir that would act as a second glacier, fed by excess runoff from the primary glacier higher up the slope.....[ More ]

Slowing the Flow

A series of embankments slowed the freezing water for long enough that it could build up into an artificial glacier.....[ More ]

Sun Shadow

Norphel began by constructing stone walls in the slopes above the village to divert the runoff from winter precipitation into an area that is shaded from the sun during winter and spring by the mountain.....[ More ]

Glacierman

Retired local engineer Chewang Norphel has been working on a method to create artificial glaciers. He approached the villagers at Stakmo and offered his help.....[ More ]

Dry Village

The village of Stakmo, at 300 meters above sea level, is reached by a dusty road that winds through the barren Ladakhi landscape. The slopes surrounding the village were cloaked with three glaciers 30 years ago, but villagers say that over the past decade the glaciers have vanished, leaving nothing but bare rock.....[ More ]

Himalayan Desert

The high-altitude desert of Leh in northern India falls in the rain shadow of the Himalayas, receiving as little precipitation as the Sahara. Farming is possible only in valleys fed by glacial runoff, and these are becoming scarcer as glaciers disappear due to warming.....[ More ]

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