Needed: Iceberg Tugboats

04Nov07

There is talk of the Greenland ice cap someday disintegrating, and parts of Antarctica continue to do so. These are potential sources of fresh water for nations conveniently located. It seems that a fleet of tugboats, with specially designed barges, might provide the best devices for pushing those huge hunks of ice into places where their water can be used.

It seems that pushing rather than pulling is the better way — that this is why tugboats, despite their name, are designed and often used to shove. I don’t know how many tugboats it would take to move an iceberg the size of Manhattan. Of course, a tugboat right up against an iceberg would be in danger of being damaged or sunk by huge chunks of ice splintering off of the main mass, so it might be helpful to design relatively unsinkable barges to serve as buffers between tug and berg.

Where to take the iceberg is another question. Maybe they could dynamite it into smaller fragments, and winch them up, on skids, onto melting racks on dry land. Maybe they could park it in a deepwater lock, pump out the surrounding salt water, and let it melt. Maybe they could design a floating water-extraction device that would melt and pump water, from the top center of the berg into an accompanying tanker, at a much faster rate than it would melt in the surrounding icy ocean waters.

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