SEEDING THE CLOUDS IN CHINA

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China is modifying the weather to face the hardest drought ever.

 ‘The National Metrological Centre put out a ‘red alert’, a weather warning last week with temperatures in a handful of regions expected to top 40 degree Celsius (104 degree Fahrenheit)’ – China Daily

Most parts of the United States and the Europe are going through a record-breaking drought nowadays and it is no difference to China. Most of the reservoirs in these countries are already parched. China’s condition has gotten more serious with its main source of water, Yangtze River-the longest river in Asia that feeds several hundred millions of people-drying out at a very rapid rate.

China has been baking under high temperatures for 63 days now, but there seems no end to it. Given this strong drought condition, the annual rainfall has gone down from 45 per cent. Yangtze River as well as the two major lakes in the river basin, Dongting and Poyang, has been reported with the lowest water level ever reported in the history of China.

Under these circumstances, many factories have been forced to close, as they consume a larger amount of water for processes and air-conditioning. People are already finding it very difficult to cope up with the heat, and there’s a possible risk of emergence of a famine.

Looking for solutions

The Chinese Government is trying out various measures to face this challenge. The local authorities have already advised the farmers to utilise ‘water-retaining agent’ in the fields to prevent water in the farmlands from evaporation and seeping out.  But, no matter what, the country needs rains very soon. Thus, they are now trying to ‘create’ rains by using the technology.

Cloud-seeding

The China Daily reports that the country is moving towards cloud-seeding, and that some regions have opted for cloud-seeding with the aid of planes while some others have gone with the option of cloud-seeding by missiles launched from the ground to the sky.

Though there are many cloud-seeding techniques, the fundamental strategy used in all the techniques is basically the same. In this process, the skies are seeded with silver iodide or other crystalline particles that acquire the structure of ice found inside the clouds. Just like the seeds for rain drops- water particles in the atmosphere are attracted to these structures and gather around. So, the chance of rain also is increased as the chance of precipitation is levelled up.

Nonetheless, it is not yet confirmed whether this cloud-seeding is as effective as China expects it to be. Some researchers have come out with the idea that this process has only a little or zero effect on raining, but at the same time, some other research papers prove this strategy to be efficient.

Anyways, it is very clear that this issue has to be addressed very soon, because the coming weeks are very crucial for the autumn harvest of rice, grain, and other crops. Otherwise, China would have to face a great famine in the coming month.

By Induwara Athapattu