Ice and glaciers
Glaciers as a water supply
Glaciers in the temperate regions supply a very important source of water to the local rural communities’ economy. Glacier waters are used more systematically to irrigate fields, while for drinking purposes, their use is often limited by the great amount of solid particles transported by the waters, that often have a greyish colour and a particular milky aspect. In the high valleys of the Karakorum, that are veritable high-altitude deserts , where yearly precipitations are about 200 to 80 mm, agriculture depends exclusively on glacial melt waters. To be able to exploit them, canal systems are built, at times several kilometres long. These are often built on unstable glacial deposits and need constant maintenance and continual modifications to adapt them to front variations of the glacier. In the past, even in the Alps, in the Aosta Valley or in the Rhone Valley, there was a network of irrigation canals, locally called “bisse” or “ru”, that exploiting melt waters.
In polar regions, instead, populations living far in the North, such as the Inuits, have been exploiting icebergs as a source of drinking water for a long time. Having been formed from glacier ice, which originated from the transformation of snow, icebergs are made up mainly of fresh water. Even today new projects are continually proposed to exploit these precious resources. A proposal was to tow an iceberg close to the coast of a country with water shortage; however, for the moment, the cost of these operations is much greater than its benefits.
Once again, a historical type of specification is indispensable...
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