The Chinese government has approved a $168 million plan (1.15 billion yuan) to modify the country’s weather, potentially bringing more rain and snow across an area almost double the size of France.
It’s one of the biggest programs of its kind, and will rely on four new planes, eight upgraded craft, 897 rocket launch devices, and 1,856 devices connected to digital control systems, according to the South China Morning Post.
With weather-modifying technology, the China Meteorological Administration estimates it will increase precipitation in an area of 960,000 sq km – 10 percent of the country’s territory.
Officials say the project will take three years to complete.
Many countries, including China, have turned to ‘cloud seeding’ in the past to relieve drought.
This process relies on the use of a catalyst, such as dry ice, to induce rainfall from the clouds.
And, weather modification by firing chemicals into the sky has also become more popular across the country, according to SCMP.
Artificial rainfall enhancement has recently become a way to help ‘clean up’ the smog-filled air of the cities.
According to He Shengcun, an official at the Qinghai provincial government’s ‘weather influencing’ office, these techniques have led to an increase in precipitation by 55 billion cubic metres from 2006 to 2016, SCMP reports.
This is the equivalent of roughly 150 percent of the water in the Three Gorges reservoir.
It isn’t the first time China has revealed its interest in plans for weather modification.
Just this past summer, China 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 in July, 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.