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Iceberg Harvesting Can End Third-World Drought, Scientist Says

Iceberg Archway

Strange sighting: an iceberg archway, floating in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. (Andrew Perry)

A French entrepreneur backed by a software company claims to have proved that he can tow giant icebergs across the world to end drought conditions.

Georges Mougin, 86, has championed his plan to harvest icebergs to solve water shortages for 40 years -- and a computer simulation now shows that the ambitious project might be possible, The (London) Sunday Times reported.

Under the plan, engineers would encircle an iceberg with a harness that contains a skirt made from an insulating textile. The skirt unfolds underwater and covers the iceberg to stop it from melting.
With the help of ocean currents, the iceberg is then towed to drought-stricken lands.

"They are floating reservoirs," Mougin said.

He formed his company, Iceberg Transport International, in 1976 but shelved his iceberg-towing project after he was told repeatedly that it was too expensive and too difficult.

However, in 2009, he was approached by the French software firm Dassault Systemes, which provided Mougin with 15 engineers to build a computer simulation to test his ideas.

The simulation proved that it was possible to tow a seven-ton (6.35-tonne) iceberg from the waters around Newfoundland, eastern Canada, to Spain's Canary Islands in 141 days, with only 38 percent of the iceberg melting.

But the cost of the enterprise remains prohibitive. To tow the iceberg from Newfoundland to the Canary Islands would cost an estimated £6 million ($9.8 million).