Antarctic Icebergs as a Global Fresh Water Resource

by John L. Hult, Neill C. Ostrander

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Abstract

Provides a background for seriously considering the use of Antarctic iceberg resources, including discussions of the demand for good quality fresh water and thermal pollution abatement, resource opportunities, and the potential economic impact of exploiting these resources. The report broadly discusses the technological feasibility and cost estimates for acquiring Antarctic icebergs, moving them, and controlling their melting. Preliminary estimates are given for terminal conversion of icebergs into fresh water. If a way can be found to move icebergs and control their melting so as to deliver 10 percent of the annual yield economically, this operation could potentially satisfy the water demands of an urban population of 500 million, and have a direct economic impact of as much as $10 billion annually. A model of the transport operations from the Ross Sea to Southern California shows that the operational cost of delivering a large iceberg train (1.22 x 10 to the 13th power) to California on a one-year cycle would be about $8 per 1000 cubic meters ($10 per acre-ft).

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