Cloud Seeding | How this artificial rain technology is a threat for Humanity

Have you ever wondered why it rains, how it rains, or why it is so uncertain to predict when it will rain? Well, I guess everyone would have questioned it once, but that time is over now. There's no need to predict the rainfall now because we can control it! Yes, you read it right. We humans don't need to pray to mighty Indra dev to bring rain. With cloud seeding, we can make clouds precipitate at our ease. Sounds interesting, right? So, let's look at it in more detail.

Brief Introduction of Cloud Seeding

Cloud seeding is a weather-modification technique to increase the rainfall in a particular area by manipulating the clouds above. The usual objective is to either increase the rainfall or prevent the rain on some specific day by precipitating clouds a few days before that 'special day.’ It’s brilliant, isn’t it to be the one controlling rainfall? But how does it work? Let’s look at it now.

How it actually works?

There are various ways to achieve it, but the most loved and conventional method is to use salts like potassium iodide, silver iodide, or dry ice. What we do is that we disperse small amounts of this salt into clouds with a lot of moisture, which then condenses around the new particles, becoming heavier and eventually falling as precipitation. Well, that is how we do it essentially, but with time and research, China has developed something big that we will look into but before that, let's see how it started. Be prepared to get back in time.

History Of Cloud Seeding

This concept of cloud seeding was first discovered in 1946 by Vincent Schaefer. He was just trying to cool his compartment using dry ice, but he notices that a cloud is formed around the ice, and that’s when this idea to seed clouds popped up in his mind. Later, working with some physicists, they found out that silver iodide is best for this process. After exploring its possibilities and limitations, it was used in the Vietnam War during Operation Popeye (1967-72) to flood the enemy supply routes with continuous rainfall.

Other than that, China used it during the 2008 Beijing Olympics games to have a dry Olympics season. Then later in February 2009, China blasted iodide in the atmosphere to induce snowfall after four months of drought, and it was successful.

China’s Project Tianhe

As we can see during the Beijing Olympics, China has long sought to ensure clear skies in its key events. But this time, China is doing something more extensive than that. With project Tianhe in the next five years, China will control rainfall and snowfall over 5.5 million sq. kilometres of an area that is 1.5 times the total size of India! Incredible! This program will help them with agriculture production, disaster relief, and dealing with droughts.

Impact on India

But everything comes at a cost, we can’t just alter nature according to our needs, and if we are making clouds somewhere, we are also preventing clouds from forming somewhere else. It may affect all the neighbouring countries, including India. It could cause problems in India and south-east Asia like a shortage of rain at some places. Agriculture in India depends heavily on rainfall, so it is a cause of concern for India.

Conclusion

“Without regulation, one country’s efforts could affect other countries," according to Dhanasree Jayaram, a climate expert at the Manipal Academy of Higher Education in Karnataka.

So, to prevent disputes between India and China, some regulations must be made on cloud seeding. Researchers at National Taiwan University also said that lack of proper coordination in weather modification could lead to 'rain stealing' charges between neighboring countries. It is an innovative technique, but some regulations are yet to be made. We shouldn't be allowed to disturb natural flow too much.

The ASME Student Chapter at IIT Roorkee is an undergraduate club of students majoring in various fields of Engineering.