GEOGRAPHY IN THE NEWS:
Himalayan glaciers are losing their ice mass, but resourceful people who depend on those glaciers for irrigation are creating their own glaciers: "Discussions about climate change tend to focus on low-lying areas, like coastal cities. Yet people who live at higher elevations also feel its negative effects — including fresh water shortages. To help these folks get by, a Ladakhi inventor named Sonam Wangchuk has created a line of artificial glaciers. Called 'ice stupas,' they're storing frozen water so it can be used to hydrate crops in the driest stretch of the year. ... As a 'cold desert,' the Ladakh area sees very little rainfall, receiving an average of just 2 to 3 inches (50 to 70 millimeters) per year. ... Demand for meltwater grows exponentially in April and May, when the life-sustaining crops of wheat, buckwheat and barley need to be sown and hydrated. But in the springtime, before the glacial water arrives in force, the streams often run dry. ... Wangchuk devised an irrigation system that's brilliant in its simplicity. The major component is a long pipeline. Most of this is buried deep underground, with one end tapping into a glacial stream or naturally occurring reservoir high in the mountains. Through the tube, the water rushes in the direction of populated areas at lower altitudes. No moving parts or electrical gizmos are needed to keep the liquid H2O flowing; gravity does the trick. It also pushes the water into the final stage of its journey. Downhill, the pipeline connects at a sharp angle to another, narrower pipe that rises out of the soil, standing vertically like a telephone pole. ... Gravity naturally propels the liquid straight up until it flies out of a sprinkler on the pipe's raised tip. High in the air, the spray encounters atmospheric temperatures in the ballpark of -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius) or lower. Before landing, it freezes solid, forming a large cone of ice around the vertical pipe. The cone's distinctive shape resembles that of a stupa, traditional Buddhist prayer monuments that've graced Ladakh for thousands of years. Hence, Wangchuk and his associates have taken to calling the new glacier-like structures 'ice stupas.'"
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