Watch How UAE Plans to Drag Icebergs from Antarctica to Solve Its Water Shortage

A company plans to transform the world's most arid region by bringing icebergs from Antarctica.

Iceberg by UAE coast. Credit: National Advisor Bureau Limited


What do you do if your nation has a severe water shortage and happens to be located in a bona fide desert? If you have the resources, you turn to technology, which is what a company in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates is looking to do. The country, which gets less than four inches of rain per year, could solve its issue with water scarcity by towing icebergs from Antarctica to its shores. The first such attempt will begin in 2018. 

The idea is actually made possible by global warming. The Antarctic ice sheet is the single largest block of ice on Earth, containing over 60% of the world’s fresh seawater. We are talking about ten thousand trillion tons of snow and ice. As icebergs break off from the ice shelf due to rising temperatures, they drift away and eventually melt, wasting up to 20 billion gallons of fresh water per iceberg which could satisfy the needs of an estimated one million people over five years. The UAE could put this water to good use, transforming its country. 

How would the monumental task of towing icebergs from Antarctica be accomplished? It could take up to a year to bring them to Fujairah, one of seven emirates that make up UAE.

Check out the video simulation here:

Once the iceberg is at UAE shores, the ice above the waterline would be chipped off, crushed into drinking water, which would then be stored in large water tanks and filtered. The iceberg would also have a broader impact, says Abdullah Mohammad Sulaiman Al Shehi, the managing director of Abu Dhabi-based firm National Advisor Bureau Limited (NABL) in an interview with Gulf News:

“Cold air gushing out from an iceberg close to the shores of the Arabian Sea would cause a trough and rainstorms across the Arabian Gulf and the southern region of the Arabian Peninsula all year round. As the rising air expands, cools and condenses due to the decrease in air pressure. Water vapour is collected in the clouds, they become heavy and falls as rain."

The more icebergs, the more water vapor and clouds, creating a profound effect on the regional climate over a decade, turning the desert into “green meadows”.

The melting icebergs would also add fresh water to the Arabian sea, returning biodiversity by balancing out the brine discharge from desalination plants. 

There would also be a boost for tourism from all the people interested in looking at the icebergs.

 

A sand gazelle is seen at the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Umm Al-Zamool, some 290 kilometres south of Abu Dhabi near the border with Oman and Saudi Arabia, on March 1, 2016. (Photo credit: KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images)

The Emirates Iceberg Project comes from a group of efforts by NABL called “Filling the Empty Quarter” which aim to dramatically impact the deserts of the “Empty Quarter” (aka Rub’ al Khali), the planet's largest contiguous sand desert. The region is also the richest oil-producing area in the world, including parts of Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE and Yemen. Another such endeavor is the Khalifa River Project, which aims to connect the rivers of Pakistan to the UAE via undersea pipelines. 

The company has so far ran simulations and feasibility studies and looks to start the project in early 2018.

A still from the film "We Became Fragments" by Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller, part of the Global Oneness Project library.

Photo: Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller / Global Oneness Project
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
  • Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
  • Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
Keep reading Show less

Four philosophers who realized they were completely wrong about things

Philosophers like to present their works as if everything before it was wrong. Sometimes, they even say they have ended the need for more philosophy. So, what happens when somebody realizes they were mistaken?

Sartre and Wittgenstein realize they were mistaken. (Getty Images)
Culture & Religion

Sometimes philosophers are wrong and admitting that you could be wrong is a big part of being a real philosopher. While most philosophers make minor adjustments to their arguments to correct for mistakes, others make large shifts in their thinking. Here, we have four philosophers who went back on what they said earlier in often radical ways. 

Keep reading Show less

Ashamed over my mental illness, I realized drawing might help me – and others – cope

Just before I turned 60, I discovered that sharing my story by drawing could be an effective way to both alleviate my symptoms and combat that stigma.

Photo by JJ Ying on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

I've lived much of my life with anxiety and depression, including the negative feelings – shame and self-doubt – that seduced me into believing the stigma around mental illness: that people knew I wasn't good enough; that they would avoid me because I was different or unstable; and that I had to find a way to make them like me.

Keep reading Show less

Sexual activity linked to higher cognitive function in older age

A joint study by two England universities explores the link between sex and cognitive function with some surprising differences in male and female outcomes in old age.

The results of this one-of-a-kind study suggest there are significant associations between sexual activity and number sequencing/word recall in men.
Image by Lightspring on Shutterstock
Mind & Brain
  • A joint study by the universities of Coventry and Oxford in England has linked sexual activity with higher cognitive abilities in older age.
  • The results of this study suggest there are significant associations between sexual activity and number sequencing/word recall in men. In women, however, there was a significant association between sexual activity in word recall alone - number sequencing was not impacted.
  • The differences in testosterone (the male sex hormone) and oxytocin (a predominantly female hormone) may factor into why the male cognitive level changes much more during sexual activity in older age.
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…