Ice Stupa was invented by Sonam Wangchuk in Ladakh, India, and the project is undertaken by the NGO Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh. Ladakh is a cold desert and due to climate change, the region experiences hotter summers with increase in melts along with shift in the timing and precipitation of the melts. Subsequently, during the spring season water is more scarce which in turn impacts agriculture and food supplies.
Ice Stupa is a form of glacier grafting technique that creates artificial glaciers , used for storing winter water (which otherwise would go unused) in the form of conical shaped ice heaps.
In October 2013, Sonam Wangchuk created the first prototype of 6 metres (20 ft) Ice Stupa by freezing 150,000 l (40,000 US gal) in Leh without any shade from the sun. Water was piped from upstream using gravity. Electricity or machinery was not used for pumping water. The Ice Stupa did not melt fully till 18 May 2014, even when the temperature was above 20 °C (68 °F).