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Abu Dhabi firm wants to tow iceberg to the UAE

By T.K. Randall
May 6, 2017 · Comment icon 17 comments

Is it feasible to tow an iceberg from Antarctica ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Liam Quinn
An impending water shortage in the United Arab Emirates has called for a rather extraordinary solution.
It might sound like a ludicrous proposition, but the fact remains that an iceberg holding 20 billion gallons of fresh water would be enough to sustain more than a million people for up to five years.

Currently, water is a major problem for the country, not least because the typical Emirati uses 80% more water on a daily basis than the global average.

A large number of desalinization plants have been deployed to try and meet this demand however this is a particularly costly solution and, according to the UN, within 20 years there are likely to be 600 million children living worldwide without sufficient access to clean drinking water.

But is towing an iceberg from the Antarctic really a viable solution ?
The Canadian oil and gas industry actually tows icebergs all the time, albeit relatively small ones, in an effort to move them out of the way of their offshore oil platforms.

In theory, the ability to move a large iceberg should be limited only by the strength of the cables used, the power of the vessels towing it and the ability to stop the iceberg from falling apart.

Ultimately however, there may simply be cheaper and more practical alternatives to supplying the United Arab Emirates with drinking water than to tow an Iceberg half way around the world.

"It comes down to the question of what is feasible and what is practical," said Tony King, director of ice engineering at Canadian firm C-Core. "Is it more practical to take a tanker to Antarctica and capture some fresh water melting off a glacier ?"

Source: The Guardian | Comments (17)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #8 Posted by Matt221 7 years ago
Yep gotta agree with you
Comment icon #9 Posted by Stiff 7 years ago
How far into the journey would they get before it starts melting? And every bit closer to home they get, every bit hotter it gets. It wouldn't surprise me if less than half of it survived the journey should this be attempted.
Comment icon #10 Posted by strunk64 7 years ago
I wonder how they would get the iceburg into water tanks if they could get it there? I think they are going after the big one thats getting ready to come off. Sorry, no time to look up which one, name at the moment.
Comment icon #11 Posted by cyclopes500 7 years ago
Cut the tops off the tanks of old supertankers that have been cleaned completely, and turn tops into lids. Sail the vessels to Antarctica, fill with ice using regular earthmoving equipment, jcb, conveyer belts, cranes etc. Cover, turn round ship and sail to wherever the water is required. All you're doing is quarrying solid water in a freezing environment. Most tankers have a double hull too and could be filled with insulation. If the ice melts the tank bodies keep it on board.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Hammerclaw 7 years ago
It's been considered, many times and found neither feasible or practical.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Gingitsune 7 years ago
Dragging a iceberg... as it melt away it will capsize many time over, so chances are the boat won't make it back...  Going in Antarctica harvest snow and ice as cyclopes500 propose is already more practical, although I'm not sure how much it will cost. It could be cheaper to buy a few tanker of Evan water...
Comment icon #14 Posted by Hammerclaw 7 years ago
How do they propose to tack an iceberg against the wind? That's not to mention the bulk of the iceberg under water being acted on by ocean currents.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Frank Merton 7 years ago
These things are big.  
Comment icon #16 Posted by Hammerclaw 7 years ago
Yeah, a monumental task. The amount of raw energy needed is staggering.
Comment icon #17 Posted by and then 7 years ago
I remember a movie called BREWSTER'S MILLIONS where an investor offered to do this.  He was going to actually attach engines to the berg itself and pilot it.  It WAS a comedy, after all  

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