Why China is spending $50 million US dollars a year on Weather Modification
And how involved are New Zealand and Australia
For over 50 years now governments around the world have tried, and mostly failed, to cloud seed. Cloud seeding is basically a form of weather modification. Using chemicals that are dropped into clouds (by plane) or blasted into (by rockets) the idea is to increase the amount of rain in clouds.
In America cloud seeding trials are being carried out for a variety of reasons. In drought affected areas the government is seeding clouds to create rain. In airports prone to fog they are experimenting with ways to reduce the amount of fog and in states affected by large hail storms trials are being performed to reduce the size of hail. At this stage nothing ground breaking has been uncovered. Some ski filed operators in the US and Canada are also getting involved with trials to boost snow fall. Trials were also done in Hurricanes but fears that they might ‘get it wrong’ and create worse hurricanes meant the trials were cancelled.
But it’s China that’s stealing the lime light when it comes to this unusual practice, spending 50 million US dollars a year as part of their weather modification project. This is to try and make the rain fall in drought affected areas, including Beijing. The Chinese fire rockets into the sky and they do believe they’re achieving more rainfall leading to neighbouring countries to accuse them of “stealing rain”. Of course rockets aren’t the safest form of doing this and a number have gone off target and slammed into houses and people. (must be using American intelligence!)
You may have already heard that China has guaranteed fine weather for the Olympics in August next year. Unfortunately August is their wet month with lots of summer induced rain and the opening ceremony will be in an uncovered stadium. The plan is that the 50 million dollar a year research will mean that if rain clouds start to build before the ceremony then they’ll fire rockets up and prematurely make the rain fall our of them…leaving the clouds rain-free by the start of the ceremony. So easy! Unfortunately at this stage…it doesn’t really work.
You might think that’s a complete waste of money… I would have to agree if it’s purely to ensure a dry Olympics… but if the Chinese actually manage to create a way to make rain fall can you imagine what that would mean for the drought affected areas of the world. Well it would certainly mean huge dollars for the Chinese but it would also mean a huge boost in the quality of life for dry areas around the globe.
In Australia the New South Wales opposition has called for cloud seeding trials to start again in the state. Trials were abandoned in the 1990’s when the Labor Government came into power. Some testing has carried on the Snow Mountains but the opposition wants to see that extended further. Inducing rain could be a life saver for many farms affected by Australia’s arid conditions.
Over twenty countries around the world are actively involved in weather modification trials. New Zealand is not one of them. According to NIWA “So far we do not know enough about clouds and how to seed them, to be sure of the effects. We might make less rain when we want more, or more hail when we want less. So cloud seeding is not done in New Zealand”. Trials were carried out in the 1950s using planes to drop dry ice in the clouds to bring rain to dry farms. The trial was unsuccessful.
A spokesman at MetService said back in the 1860s trials were conducted where cannons were used to shoot clouds in the hopes it would alter rainfall. Don’t think that brilliant idea worked too well. In the 1970s the New Zealand Government dropped silver iodide from planes over Marlborough in the hopes they could create rain to ease droughts. But if the air is dry and there are no clouds then there is no point in seeding. It makes about as much sense as planting plant seeds on top of concrete instead of in the soil.
So whether cloud seeding can ever truly work is yet to be seen…but quite often it’s the craziest ideas that end up working. So I say keep the research going.
Story By: PHILIP DUNCAN – HEAD WEATHER ANALYST
WEATHER NEWS HEADLINES:
– Gales set to develop in central and eastern parts of New Zealand later this week.
– Most South Island centres should be frost free for the rest of the week.