Water to the Wadi
Have you ever run out of ice for a party? The icemaker in the refrigerator is empty, so you have to run to the nearest grocery store to get a bag. And it’s a hot day, so the ice starts to melt on the way home. One bag is not a real problem. But what if you needed an iceberg? How would you get that home?
Amazing But True
- Desert countries such as northern Africa and Saudi Arabia do not have good water supplies. The weather is hot and dry, and few rivers run through the area. Abundant sources of water have always been a problem. So towing an iceberg might make sense.
- The idea of using icebergs as a water supply is not a new one. Many schemes were developed in the 1800s for moving these large masses of ice. Some of the ideas involved using a ship for towing, while others proposed putting a propeller on the iceberg in order to move it. One successful approach was the moving of icebergs from southern Chile up the coast to Valparaiso (about 1700 miles) for refrigeration for a brewery. Other plans were proposed during much of the twentieth century, mainly on theoretical grounds and not on sound data.
- In 1977, a group led by a Saudi Arabian prince proposed towing an iceberg from Antarctica to Saudi Arabia. A company was formed that would find a 100-million ton iceberg in Antarctica, wrap it in sailcloth and plastic, then tow it to the Arabian peninsula to be used for fresh drinking water. The project was estimated to cost $100 million and was believed to take eight months.
- Watch a video about an iceberg projectat the link below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5nP119yw5Q
Can You Apply It?
Use the links below to learn more about icebergs and fresh water. Then answer the following questions.
- What are two problems with using towed icebergs as a source of fresh water?
- What is the estimated loss of mass of the iceberg due to melting while being towed?
- Use the oceanexplorer.noaa.gov simulator to explore issues in moving icebergs and answer the questions at the end.