China has allocated 199 million yuan ($29.76 million) to spend on its weather modification programme as part of efforts to combat drought and reduce the impact of natural disasters.
The finance ministry revealed the project earlier this month, as state media reported flooding this year caused at least 237 deaths.
The Ministry of Finance said the additional funding had been made available in order to help China’s regions respond to the large number of ‘extreme weather events’ this year, including heavy flooding in south and central regions as well as drought in the northwest.
China currently uses weather modification technology – including cloud seeding – to induce rain during droughts, to reduce hail, and to clear the skies ahead of prestigious international events, including the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
China aims to use weather modification technologies to create more than 60 billion cubic metres of additional rain a year by 2020, it said in a document published at the beginning of last year.
Elsewhere similar technology is under development.
A team of Nevada scientists have been using a drone to control the weather.
Engineers and meteorologists say they have created the first autonomous cloud seeding platform that could increase rainfall by 15 per cent.
Cloud seeding involves spraying fine particles of silver iodide into a cloud system in an effort to boost the amount of rain that falls.
Drone engineers and scientists from the Desert Research Institute, Drone America, and AviSight have teamed up to build the drone, which carries cloud-seeding equipment.
They used a DAx8 eight-rotor drone and successfully completed flare tests in late January 2016.
‘This is a major milestone,’ said Adam Watts, the project’s lead.
‘We were able to fly this advanced aircraft right here in Northern Nevada and verify that UAS are fully capable of carrying active cloud seeding payloads.’
Richards, president of Drone America said the project would provide ‘safe airborne seeding with significant potential of providing relief to people in drought-stricken areas.’
While this may be the first drone to perform cloud seeding, it isn’t the first time the technique has been used.
Last year, Arizona revealed plans to create artificial rain clouds by flying planes over the Rockies and seeding the sky with silver iodide.
They hope the technology will allow them to mitigate some of the worst impacts of climate change – but not everyone is convinced.
The process of cloud seeding was first proposed in the 1940s at the General Electric labs in Schenectady, New York.
Two decades later, the Central Arizona Project and the Salt River Project invested in research to make it a reality.
‘It hasn’t been taken off the table as a potential tool as we work our way through drought now and in the future,’ Nancy Selover, Arizona’s state climatologist told Becky Brisley at Cronkite News.
Since 2007, CAP has put about $1 million toward research happening in other states to increase the supply of water in the Colorado River system.
The system works on the premise that rainfall takes place when supercooled droplets of water form ice crystals.
As a result they become too heavy to remain suspended in the air, and fall, often melting on their way down to form rain.
Water in the air, even in dry areas, can be transformed into ice crystals by seeding the atmosphere with chemicals such as silver iodide or dry ice.
They create rain by inducing nucleation – a process in which water is in the air condenses around the particles and crystallises to form ice.
But some scientists are concerned about silver building up in river basins, as well as legal uncertainties over who should get the additional water.
Compared to other alternatives, such as desalinating seawater, cloud seeding is the cheapest option, though it isn’t going to be a drought-buster on its own.
In a recent Wyoming Weather Modification pilot project, the technology resulted in an increase of seasonal snow water accumulations of 5 to 15 per cent.
But Selover, the state climatologist, told Cronkite News that the trickiest part of cloud seeding is measuring whether an area got more rainfall.
‘So the effectiveness of it is in doubt,’ she said. ‘It’s not that it’s completely ineffective – they’re pretty sure it has some impact – but it’s pretty hard to measure.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3715380/China-s-30-million-project-control-weather-Cloud-seeding-technology-used-bid-combat-drought-natural-disasters.html#ixzz4G2ZTSfPv
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