14 October, 2009

Chinese modify the weather

Maybe we could learn something from the Chinese. This came to us in an email this week: ARTIFICIAL WEATHER MODIFIERS Artificial rain suppression equipment was successfully used at the opening (and closing) ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Weather officials fired over a 1,000 rockets, to ensure that no rain would fall on the Olympics opening ceremony, where 15,000 performers participated and over 91,000 spectators gathered. The Beijing Weather Modification Program successfully intercepted stretches of rain, and possible lightning and thunder, moving toward the stadium. From 20 firing sites and anti-aircraft batteries, they hunted for pregnant rain clouds, pounded them with rockets containing silver iodide, and dissipated the clouds completely. “Ours is the largest artificial weather controlling program in the world,” Mr. Wang, the Director of the Weather Modification Department of China said. They employ more than 32,000 people, 7,100 anti-aircraft guns, 4,991 special rocket launchers and 30-odd aircraft across the country. When a drought is threatening farms and orchards on the outskirts of Beijing, a group of farmers assemble, not to perform a rain dance or gather in a temple to beat the drums and pray to the Lord Buddha to bring the rain. Instead, they grab rocket launchers and 37mm anti-aircraft guns and begin shooting into the sky. Their targets are not enemy aggressors but wisps of passing cloud that they aim to "seed" with silver-iodide particles around which moisture can then collect and become heavy enough to fall. The farmers are part of the biggest rain-making force in the world. Between 1999 and 2006, 250 billion tons of rain was artificially created, enough to fill the Yellow River several times over. Not only do they bring rain to parched areas, but they break up damaging hailstorms, put out forest fires and fighting sandstorms by coaxing rain from passing clouds. “No matter what, no one can produce rain from blue skies,” Mr. Shi Lixin, a so-called ‘weather modifier’ said. “It all depends on cloud physics.” Sadly enough, the need for rainwater has produced squabbles on the ground. Two years ago, five thirsty cities in Henan province accused each other of ‘cloud theft’ for their efforts to trigger chemically induced showers, over their own territories.

1 comment:

Katherine said...

Silver Iodide is being testing in Australia too for its potential for cloud seeding - albiet minus the rocket-wielding farmers! (Here it would use computer controlled launchers in the mountains) Of course, once a cloud is seeded you still can't guarantee how much rain will fall or how much of that will end up where you need it!