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What is an Arctic Harvester?

Arctic harvester_aerial

Though considered the third largest country in North America, more than 80% of Greenland remains buried under ice. With temperatures averaging 18 to 45 degrees F (-8 to 7 degrees C), the possibility for agricultural industries do not exist. However, a group of innovative designers entered an award-winning concept in the 2013 Jacques Rougerie Foundation International Architecture Competition with hopes of changing the country’s plight. The Arctic Harvester consists of a multi-level, fully self-contained, circular, floating hydroponic village equipped to recycle the multitude of melting icebergs that lie in the oceans between Greenland and Canada.

With an estimated 30 to 47 gigatons of icebergs created annually, the Arctic Harvester would capture the floating ice into a central bay and divert the nutrient-rich freshwater from the melting ice into a hydroponic farming system contained within the vessel’s environment. After nourishing the agricultural environment, recycling would make the water safe for drinking and other human uses. Any brown or waste water created within the vessel would also undergo recycling processes. Ships would transport produce from the Harvester to various coastal ports on the mainland.

Harvester Design Features
The massive complex would travel the Gulf Stream currents of the Arctic Ocean between Canada and Greenland while harvesting the floating ice. The exterior of the vessel would feature a protective bubble designed to retain heat and mimic the dark of night when the Harvester was stationed at the North Pole during extended periods of daylight. In winter, when sunlight is virtually nonexistent, lamps generated by the vessel’s power plant would produce both heat and light. In addition to solar power, when available, the craft would make use of sea salt to create electricity.

The plans call for a cone-shaped central bay area extending to a depth of 150 meters beneath the sea. Ice would funnel into the mouth of the bay along with a variety of marine life. In addition to serving as a corral for the melting ice, the bay would provide the estimated 800 Harvester occupants with fresh seafood. To accommodate the population on board who will operate and maintain the vessel, the Harvester would also include homes, a school, medical facility and recreation center, along with a church, stores and general public areas.

Though drawings and sketches of the design are complete, the Arctic Harvester remains in the planning stage. Concept designers are in the process of working in conjunction with consulting firms to test the project’s viability, obtain funds and construct a prototype. The project won first prize in the “Innovation and Architecture for the Sea” category.

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