EGU22-4005, updated on 27 Mar 2022
EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The surprising weather conditions favoring artificial ice reservoirs (Icestupas)

Suryanarayanan Balasubramanian1,2, Martin Hoelzle1, Michael Lehning3, Jordi Bolibar4, Sonam Wangchuk2, Johannes Oerlemans4, and Felix Keller5,6
Suryanarayanan Balasubramanian et al.
  • 1University of Fribourg, Department of Geosciences, Fribourg, Switzerland
  • 2Himalayan Institute of Alternatives Ladakh, Leh, India
  • 3WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research, Davos, Switzerland
  • 4Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 5Academia Engiadina, Samedan, Switzerland
  • 6ETH, Zürich, Switzerland

Since 2014, mountain communities in Ladakh, India have been constructing dozens of ArtificialIce Reservoirs (AIRs) by spraying water through fountain systems every winter. The meltwater from these structures is crucial to meet irrigation water demands during spring. However, there is a large variability associated with this water supply due to the local weather influences at the chosen location. This study compared the ice volume evolution of an AIR built in Ladakh, India with two others built in Guttannen, Switzerland using a surface energy balance model. Model input consisted of meteorological data in conjunction with fountain discharge rate (mass input of an AIR). Validation with drone’s ice volume observations shows the model performs well. Our results show that the conical shape of AIRs significantly reduce solar radiation-induced melt. The location in Ladakh had a maximum ice volume four times larger compared to the Guttannen site. However, the corresponding water losses for all the AIRs were more than three-quarters of the total fountain discharge due to high fountain wastewater. Drier and colder locations in relatively cloud-free regions are expected to produce long-lasting AIRs with higher maximum ice volumes. This is a promising result for dry mountain regions, where AIR technology could provide a relatively affordable and sustainable strategy to mitigate climate change induced water stress.


How to cite: Balasubramanian, S., Hoelzle, M., Lehning, M., Bolibar, J., Wangchuk, S., Oerlemans, J., and Keller, F.: The surprising weather conditions favoring artificial ice reservoirs (Icestupas), EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-4005,, 2022.


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