Artificial Glaciers in Zanskar

Photo by  Ashwini Chaudhary

Greetings from Zanskar, we have arrived in the spectacular Zanskar valley, where we will be spending the majority of our remaining three weeks in India. Zanskar is surrounded on three sides by glacial peaks, with a silt-stained river flowing gently through valley floor.

Many of the families here are subsistence farmers, relying on the harvest from the short summer season to provide enough food for the bitterly cold winter months. Glacial melt is the primary source of irrigation for their crops, and in recent years is being affected by climate change. One village, Kuming, is being forced to relocate because its water sources are drying up.

One of the purposes of our trip was to work with the community in Stongdey to help address the issue of their changing climate. We have met with the village leaders and will be supporting their efforts to build artificial glaciers. Artificial glaciers are essentially ice reservoirs built at lower altitudes than natural glaciers. The hope is that these will provide an additional source of irrigation water and act as an insurance in particularly poor water years. We will update you more about this project in the next email.

The students are staying with local families in the villages of Stongdey and Zangla. They are all doing well and adjusting to being immersed in remote village life in the Himalayas. We are continually amazed by the kindness of the families here, warmly welcoming us into their homes and communities. The pride they take in being hosts is something many of us hope we can emulate in our own lives back in the US.

Charlie and James