Can We Solve the Global Water Shortage By Melting Icebergs?

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Can We Solve the Global Water Shortage By Melting Icebergs? Can We Solve the Global Water Shortage By Melting Icebergs?
Environment

Can We Solve the Global Water Shortage By Melting Icebergs?

by Ben Jervey

June 12, 2011

The World Water Council estimates that there are 1.1 billion people living without access to safe drinking water.

It's important to remember that icebergs are different than floe ice, or what is commonly referred to as the "ice cap." Whereas floe ice is actually frozen sea water, icebergs break (or "calve") off of glaciers and ice shelves, like those collapsing off of Greenland, Northern Canada, and Antarctica. It's hard to calculate exactly how much potential fresh water is stored in all these calving glaciers, but Greenland alone shed an average of 195 cubic kilometers of ice every year between 2003 and 2008.

By my back-of-napkin calculations, that's around 51 trillion gallons of water every year from Greenland alone. These icebergs are simply melting into the sea. Gougin would say they're "wasted."

I'm sure that it's going to prove incredibly expensive to tow icebergs all around the world, and I'm not certain it'll be more cost-effective than providing poor communities in arid regions with smarter water collection devices. But it's certainly a fascinating concept. I'll be eager to see that first test tow.

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