How icebergs may be a solution to fresh water shortages

The idea of towing an iceberg from Antarctica to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) sounds fantastical, but might not be entirely beyond the realms of plausibility.

A firm in Abu Dhabi has floated plans to tow icebergs from Antarctica to the United Arab Emirates to solve the country’s fresh water shortage.

An iceberg holding 20bn gallons of fresh water could meet the needs of a million people for five years, but first, it would have to be hauled across 10 000km of open ocean to the coast of Fujairah, a feat that could take a year.

Cape Talk host, John Maytham spoke to Prof Grant Bigg of Earth Systems at Sheffield University, talking about the possibility of the phenomenon.

It certainly has never been done before. Icebergs have been towed smaller sizes than they are considering, but not on this kind of ocean base and scale before.

Prof. Grant Bigg - Sheffield University

In a promotional animation released by the firm, a giant, flat-topped iceberg is towed into the Persian Gulf bearing penguins and polar bears, which double as a tourist attraction. There are no polar bears in Antarctica.

It will require a very large ship, certainly current iceberg towing which goes on at the Canadian coast, involves substantial type and icebergs no larger than 200 to 300 in length.

Prof. Grant Bigg - Sheffield University

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