Anshuman Bhardwaj, member of the Group of Atmospheric Science (GAS), and responsible for the Swedish contribution to the SWASDAG (Sustainable WAter Security through the Development of Artificial Glaciers) project, was to Ladakh, India, last April for the start-up of this collaborative project intended to palliate the seasonal water shortage in this remote region at the foothills of the Himalayas.
The goal of the project, funded by the Swedish Council for Scientific Research (Vetenskapsrådet), is the installation of the so called “ice stupas”, structures formed by the freezing and storage of the water that, otherwise, flows and wastes away into the rivers throughout the winter. They must be placed in strategical points in which the water instead melts when it is needed, i.e. during the springtime. Ice Stupas are basically huge ice towers with a conic shape of 20 to 30 m height, which can be built right next to the villages.
The role of GAS within de project is to carry out a systematic study of the area aimed to the refinement of the techniques to be applied for the establishment of ice stupas, as well as to map the most favourable points for the extension of their use.
As a first step, Anshuman Bhardwaj has been working on the location of the optimal places to settle, next autum, the environmental monitoring stations whose data will support the investigations to be carried out by GAS. They are low-cost sets of instruments also developed within the Group, and the data they will provide include measurements of pollutants and certain properties of the snow.
Together with satellite observations and other demographic and geological datasets, it will be possible to introduce important improvements in the management of the ice stupas for the optimization of their performance.
On the other hand, all these data will contribute crucial information for driving other climatic and meteorological studies in a region that is especially sensitive to the climate change.
Anshuman Bhardwaj with Sonam Wangchuk, the engineer who designed the ice stupas technique, and his colleague Soheb, from the Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Detail of the magnitud of the ice stupas.