Earth Strange

Record Icebergs are Floating Drought Solutions

Today’s true strange news award goes to a 10,000 year old iceberg, one of the largest ever seen off the coast of Ferryland, Canada.

Each spring, ice blocks drift down from the arctic into an area known as “Iceberg Alley,” off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.
One of the first massive icebergs of the season looks grounded in shallow water, just off the coast of Ferryland, Canada.

Ferryland Mayor Adrian Kavanagh told the Canadian Press it could stick around for a while. “It’s the biggest one I ever seen around here,” Kavanaugh said. “It’s in so close that people can get a good photograph of it.”

So far this season, there’s been an unusually high number of icebergs. The Canadian Press reports that 616 have already moved into the North Atlantic shipping lanes compared to 687 by the late-September season’s end last year.

Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, said it is possible climate change is leading to more icebergs in the shipping lanes, but wind patterns are also important.


Icebergs are not salty. They are made of pure fresh water. Could this be towed to a place with drought and used? Someone’s already working on that idea:

More than two billion people in the world live without access to clean drinking water, and recent droughts in Africa have left 12 million people without water. To aid them, French eco-entrepreneur Georges Mougin plans to harvest icebergs across the world to solve the water shortage.
Since 40 years ago when he first came up with his plan to end drought, Mougin, 86, has tried to figure out a way to tow freshwater icebergs across the Arctic. While experts deemed it too expensive and difficult to carry out his plan, now the once-unthinkable dream is about to come true.
With the help of computer simulations from French software firm Dassault Systems, hid project to make usage of the “floating reservoirs,” as Mougin himself describes it, is proven to be viable and affordable.

… When icebergs break off from the ice caps of Greenland and melt into the salty ocean, billions of gallons of freshwater is lost without quenching anyone’s thirst. Mougin has invented a system for encircling an iceberg with a harness containing a skirt made from an insulating textile. The skirt unfolds underwater and covers the iceberg so it would not melt. Then the iceberg will ride on ocean currents till it’s towed to the lands suffering from drought.
According to results suggested by 3D computer simulations, a single tugboat from Newfoundland can transport 7 million tons of iceberg to the Canary Islands in less than five months without melting the iceberg. …

The cost of the project still remains a neck. Towing the iceberg from Newfoundland to the Canary Islands would cost an estimated $9.8 million.
Mougin hopes the latest proof from the simulations will allow him to raise fund for a trial run next year that will tow a smaller iceberg from Antarctic to Australia.
If successful, 30-million ton iceberg will supply 500,000 people with fresh water for a year.

Make the best of whatever floats your way, no matter how strange.

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