Categories: Earth

Got Drought? Just Tow in an Iceberg


As an April Fool’s joke in 1978, Australian businessman Dick Smith claimed he was towing an iceberg from Antarctica to Sydney Harbour. He used a barge covered with white plastic and fire extinguisher foam in effort to convince those who gathered at the harbor to see it. Apparently, however, the idea is not such a joke after all. A team of engineers from France have studied the concept, did a simulation and found that icebergs floating around in the ocean could be tethered and towed to places that are experiencing a severe drought and water shortages.

The idea originally was conceived in the 1970’s by an graduate student named Georges Mougin, who even received some funds from a Saudi prince to test the idea, but not much came of it.

According to an article on PhysOrg, the French engineers looked into the idea and concluded that towing an iceberg from, for example, the waters around Newfoundland to the Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa, could be done, and would take just under five months when towed by a tugboat outfitted with a kite sail, traveling at about one knot.

The cost would be almost ten million dollars, however.

According to a simulated test, the iceberg would lose only 38 percent of its seven ton mass during the trip, if it was fitted with an insulated skirt.

Apparently Mougin is encouraged by the results and now at age 86 is trying to raise money for an actual iceberg-tow.

Read more details on PhysOrg.

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004, and has published over 6,000 articles on space exploration, astronomy, science and technology. She is the author of two books: "Eight Years to the Moon: the History of the Apollo Missions," (2019) which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible; and "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" (2016) tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond. Follow Nancy on Twitter at and and Instagram at and

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