There is a wikipedia page on glacier growing, and also a Master thesis has apparently been written on the subject, investigating this practice in Northern Pakistan.

On the one hand, I have read (I'm a physicist, I know next to nothing about glaciers!) that glaciers are highly nonlinear systems, displaying strong hysteresis effects. On the other hand, I would expect that relevant time scales for glacier growth are more in the hundreds of years and not decades.

Therefore, I would love to know if this is practice is scientifically grounded in any way?

  • $\begingroup$ It doesn't take 100 years. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crater_Glacier $\endgroup$
    – DavePhD
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, DavePhD, very interesting! I still don't understand if it is actually important for the growth rate to have some ice already present. $\endgroup$
    – jarm
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 20:30

1 Answer 1


There is a decent explanation in Glacier Man Science 30 Oct 2009: Vol. 326, Issue 5953, pp. 659-661. (alternative link)

Norphel’s idea was to divert the lost winter water from its course down the mountain, along regularly placed stone embankments that would slow it down and allow it to spread and trickle across a large, shaded surface depression a few hundred meters from the village. Here, the slowed water would freeze and pack into a glacier that would begin melting when the sun rose high enough in spring to expose the thick ice


Norphel has built nine glaciers since that first one, which he began in the late 1980s and worked on until 1994. They average 250 meters long by 100 meters wide; the Phuktse glacier remains the largest. Norphel estimates that each one provides some 6 million gallons (23,000 cubic meters) of water, although there has been no accurate analysis to date, and the undulating ground makes it difficult to guess the volume of ice in each glacier. Each artificial glacier is built using local labor and materials for about 3 to 10 lakh Indian rupees (6000 to 20,000 US dollars), depending on the size and site, compared with about US$34,000 for a cement water reservoir, Norphel says.

Personally, I wouldn't call these glaciers. It is more that water is being dammed so it freezes rather than runs off, and stays frozen into the spring then eventually melts before the end of the season.

  • $\begingroup$ More environmentally friendly too, I would think. Interesting. $\endgroup$
    – userLTK
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 20:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yeah, from the estimate above, a typical "glacier" described there is less than 1m deep which means the ice sheet does not flow and thus is not technically a glacier (c.f. earthscience.stackexchange.com/questions/4906/… ). I would still be interested in a discussion concerning artificially starting an actual glacier. $\endgroup$
    – jarm
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 9:40
  • $\begingroup$ This seems to be about a very different type of glacier development than that covered by most of the wikipedia article and the Masters thesis. Perhaps it might be worth adding to the answer something about that? $\endgroup$
    – 410 gone
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 10:45

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