Ice stupa

A small mountain community’s effort and desperation to deal with climate change and melting glaciers.


Ice Stupa was invented by Sonam Wangchuk in Ladakh and launched in October 2013, the test project started in January 2014 under the project name Ice Stupa Project.


The Ice Stupa is a form of glacier grafting technique that creates artificial glaciers, used for storing winter water in the form of conical-shaped ice heaps. The idea behind artificial glaciers is to freeze and hold the water that keeps flowing and wasting away down the streams and into the rivers throughout the winter.


The idea is also to conserve this tower of ice as long into the summer as possible so that as it melts, it feeds the fields until the real glacial meltwaters start flowing in June. Since these ice cones extend vertically upwards towards the sun, they receive fewer of the sun’s rays per the volume of water stored; hence, they will take much longer to melt compared to an artificial glacier of the same volume formed horizontally on a flat surface.


Photo credits: The Ice Stupa Project /Instagram