Ice Stupas

Ice Stupas
ENTRY DATE: 03 May 2015| LAST UPDATE: 03 May 2015
Categories: Water Resources | Water supply measures
Technological Maturity: Applicable Immediately, research complete and technology in initial implementation phase
Technology Owners:

Engineer, Sonam Wangchuk, founder of founder of the SECMOL alternative school, Ladakh

Needs Addressed
  • Supply of fresh water for domestic use
  • Altered water use techniques
Adaptation Effects

Supplies an alternative supply of water in mountainous regions to combat the water scarcity effects of shrinking glaciers

Overview and Features

Artificial glaciers, or cones of ice, that store water for use in months when water is inaccessible or unavailable. Water is piped from a height 20ft higher than the desired stupa height and allowed to fall to the ground. The tall, cone shape of the ice stupas stores water vertically and enables the ice to remain frozen for longer than other artificial glaciers by reducing surface area exposed to sun and wind.


Production of 80-90 stupas is estimated at USD 100,000 with USD 20,000 extra for platform fees, bank/credit card charges, rewards, perks and shipment costs for supporters

Energy Source

None required beyond initial production

Ease of Maintenance

Maintenance relies on the natural conditions of the site

Technology Performance
  • Ice stupas can be used in lower altitudes that artificial glaciers die to their design reducing their exposure to sun and wind
  • The prototype was a two-story glacier with a volume of 150,000 litres was produced at an altitude of 3200 metres to test the technology
  • The full sized stupas will be 30-40 metres high and able to store 16000 cubic metres of water each
  • 80-90 stupas expected to hold enough water to green 1500 acres of desert land
Considerations (technology transfer criteria, challenges, etc.)

Must be used at a certain altitude with limited exposure to sun and wind, therefore success is dependent on site-specific conditions

Co-benefits, Suitability for Developing Countries
  • Costs effective and locally managed
  • Produces and adapted version of natural occurring water source relied upon by mountain communities therefore its’ familiarity encourages adoption and sustainability
Information Resources

Pandey, S. 2014. Crowdfunded “ice stupas” help Ladakh adapt to climate change. RTCC. Available from: [19 January 2015]