China are spending $168 million on a new weather system involving cloud seeding technology, which hopes to make it possible to manipulate the weather including making it rain on demand. According to recent reports, the China Meteorological Administration wants to increase rainfall and snow across 960,000 square kilometers of the country.
The huge sum of money will be invested into four new aircrafts, as well as upgrading eight existing planes and launching a total of 900 rocket systems, which will allow the project workers to sprinkle particular substances above the clouds which could induce the rainmaking process. The substances range from silver iodide to dry ice, and the addition of these chemicals into the clouds is thought to possibly lower their temperature, and therefore speed up the condensation process. Although this method does not have any scientifically proven basis, China has claimed that so far the system has already helped them to increase their precipitation by 55 billion cubic meters during a 10 year period from 2006 to 2016, particularly in the western part of China.
The South China Morning Post reported, “The […] project is expected to help with “ecological security, water resource allocation, drought fighting and forest fire prevention” in Gansu, Shaanxi, Qinghai, Ningxia, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, all of which are western regions plagued by water shortages.”
According to reports, cloud seeding schemes have been around for years, although the claims regarding the process’s success have been labelled “unrealistic”, which then went on to increase the apprehension surrounding the project. Throughout the years since cloud seeding has been around, weather scientists have all agreed that the positive results that they have found must all be supported with greater scientific data. Despite the aid of modern day tools and techniques, it still remains to be intensely difficult to establish whether the weather conditions have resulted from artificial interference or if they have occurred naturally.
Yet despite the lack of concrete evidence, scientists have still continued to work on the technique and modify it where needed. In the past, China has used the method to ensure good weather conditions for important events, such as the Beijing Olympics. During 2008, China launched more than a thousand rockets to release the silver iodide over the city sky in an attempt to clear storm clouds and ensure that the event would not be damaged by rain.
As their research continues, they are hoping to adopt the same technique to address changes in temperature and precipitation which have been caused by climate change. Their main focus is on drought-striken regions and cities that are suffering from heavy smog that need the aid of rain to help to clear the city air. Whilst there is still a lot of uncertainty around the technique of cloud-seeding, research into the field continues, as China believes that a perfected technique will prove to be invaluable during a time when extreme weather events are becoming more common due to the effects of climate change.