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6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Social Studies, Earth and Space Sciences, Geography, Engineering

Resource Type

  • Videos, 16 minutes, 2 seconds, CC

Regional Focus

Global, Asia

Adaptation - Ice Stupas of Ladakh

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  • This video examines the effects of climate change on the Himalayan people of Ladakh, specifically the issues of melting glaciers, which cause a chaotic mix of drought and flash floods.
  • Students will learn about the innovative solution of ice stupas, giant constructed domes of ice that store water to be used as an irrigation source in the crop-planting months of April and May, as well as the building of an artificial glacier designed to provide a steady stream of irrigating water year-round.
Teaching Tips


  • Students will view helpful animated graphics depicting the construction of two different types of ice stupas.
  • The importance of experimentation is emphasized and provides an excellent talking point about the value of never giving up.
  • Stunning visuals of massive ice stupas, as well as the mountainous region itself, help to keep students engaged.

Additional Prerequisites

  • A PBS ad may play before the video begins.
  • Because the vocabulary is somewhat rigorous, a definition list will be helpful.
  • A brief introductory definition of stupa would be beneficial.


  • The video begins with a Ladakhi cultural event so teachers can use the visuals as a starting point for a class discussion about cultural events worldwide. How do events compare and contrast?
  • Geography teachers can utilize the video as a starting point for a lesson about elevation, altitude, and cultures that survive at great physical heights.
  • Stupas resemble very large, domed igloos with an interior pipe structure, so science teachers can have students recreate scaled-down stupas using ice or a warm-weather substitute.
  • Math teachers can discuss the differences between the metric and imperial systems since the project developer in the video mentions measurements via the metric system.
Scientist Notes

Climate change is causing unpredictable snow melt in the Himalayan high desert region of Ladakh, where locals use ice stupas, dome-shaped ice structures, to store water for spring. This video shows the hands-on work of engineers building and maintaining these structures and illustrates that the timing of available water is crucial. The video is in a documentary style and focuses heavily on the narrative rather than the hydrology of the Himalayas. Teachers could use this resource as an introduction for a more in-depth project. This resource is recommended for teaching.

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-2 Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • MS-ETS1-1 Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
      • MS-ETS1-4 Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
      • HS-ETS1-2 Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.10.6-8 Analyze the ways in which cultural and environmental characteristics vary among various regions of the world.
      • D2.Geo.10.9-12 Evaluate how changes in the environmental and cultural characteristics of a place or region influence spatial patterns of trade and land use.
      • D2.Geo.9.9-12 Evaluate the influence of long-term climate variability on human migration and settlement patterns, resource use, and land uses at local-to-global scales.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6.2 Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study.
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