2016 Laureate, Environment
Sonam Wangchuk is helping farmers in the arid Himalayan highlands of Ladakh to overcome water shortages by tapping meltwaters to build artificial glaciers.
The Rolex Award funds will support the project and promote ice stupas as a climate-change adaptation and desert-greening technique.
In spring, farmers who live at 3,500 m in the trans-Himalayan mountains of Ladakh face acute water shortages. Ladakhi engineer Sonam Wangchuk’s ingenious solution is to freeze glacial meltwater into towering conical mounds resembling Tibetan
religious stupas. These ice stupas behave like mini-glaciers, slowly releasing irrigation water for the growing season.
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