JUN 07, 2017 9:33 AM PDT

Why does the United Arab Emirates Want to Tow an Iceberg to the Middle East?


Towing an iceberg to the Middle Eastern heat and deserts as a tourist attraction and to provide the UAE citizens with fresh water sounds like a crazy plan, does it not? Well, it is. But is it even plausible? Let's look at the science behind the idea.

The process of towing an iceberg, a ginormous heaping mass of extremely heavy, melt-able ice, halfway around the world proves difficult. After carefully selecting an iceberg for shape and size, it would need to be fitted with an insulated "skirt" around the water line and pulled through the water by a huge tugboat. However, with such a large load, the tugboat could only travel about 1 knot per hour, meaning it would take 283 straight days of towing to reach the UAE. Furthermore, the iceberg would also lose up to 30% of its mass along the way due to warming water temperatures. But that's not the only downfall; the cost of a vessel that is strong enough to tow an iceberg, plus all the fuel that it would require would cost roughly $75,000 per day, totaling over $21,225,000 to reach the UAE. Sounds like an obstacle.

So while this plan is unlikely to play out, moving icebergs shorter distances actually does happen already today by oil companies when icebergs shift in storms and threaten to collide with oil rigs. Seem like a protest from Mother Nature? Watch the video to learn more!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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