Cloud Seeding: Making it Rain!
Posted on: December 8, 2020.

Author: Prabhukrishna M, Content Creator/Chief Editor, Yokibu Editorial

Why ‘Cloud Seeding’?

Consistent, reliable, and safe supply of water is key for human existence—in any planet. Ancient human species, modern humans, and the earliest civilizations have all sought to settle near a major water source.

Consequently, the most terrible natural crisis that humanity has faced, is facing, and might face, is running out of life-sustaining water sources and supplies.

However, scientific humans today can mimic the natural “evaporation-condensation-precipitation” water cycle to induce artificial rain in places where the natural water cycle does not occur or has collapsed.

Such places mostly include deserts and dry/arid areas where there is no significant rainfall to sustain  human life—water being the most important of all basic needs.

What is ‘Cloud Seeding’?

Cloud seeding is a kind of a weather modification technology to create artificial rainfall. The idea was first experimented with in 1946 by Vincent J. Schaefer, an American chemist and meteorologist.

Technically, an attempt to induce precipitation—make the skies rain, albeit manually—is performed by particular chemical substances—condensation nuclei—injected deliberately into the clouds.

What chemicals are used to induce rain?

Though various substances have been tested, silver iodide, potassium iodide, solid carbon dioxide (dry ice), and liquid propane have been the most effective ‘seeds’ of rain.

This was typically when used in “supercooled clouds”—composed of water droplets at temperatures below freezing point. Calcium chloride was found effective in clouds with temperatures above freezing point.

When can ‘Cloud Seeding’ be performed?

The process can be performed only when there are enough pre-existing clouds in the atmosphere. In other words, ‘cloud seeding’ cannot be performed in cloudless skies.

By depositing ‘condensation nuclei’ in the clouds—around which condensation can take place—the process of artificially inducing rainfall is facilitated and accelerated by ‘cloud seeding’.

How is ‘Cloud Seeding’ performed?

The ’seeds’ are delivered to the skies either by aircraft or rockets reaching directly into the clouds or by spraying the condensation nuclei skyward from the ground using cannons or ground generators.

Water droplets in the clouds react with these substances and begin to evaporate. Ice crystals start to form and deposit within the clouds as a result of water vapor being formed.

As more water droplets attach themselves to the condensation nuclei, the formation of water vapor—“evaporation”— increases exponentially, and ice crystals begin to build rapidly within the clouds.

Ice crystals—“condensation”—make the clouds denser. Moisture in the clouds reaches the maximum level of saturation causing them to condense into rain—“precipitation”—that falls to the ground.

Where has ‘Cloud Seeding’ been successfully executed?

Australia, America, Spain and France. In the United Arab Emirates, 52 storms have been created in Abu Dhabi through this technique.

As of 2019, India has witnessed 30 successful incidents of cloud seeding, courtesy the Indian Meteorological Department.

In Russia and other such extremely cold countries, fog at the airports has been successfully dispersed using artificially induced rain.

Conclusively…

…cloud seeding has also been used to settle atmospheric dust and clearing smog—a “haze” caused by smoke mixing with fog—in the sky.

Minimizing damage to crops and buildings from hailstones are significant attempts made while using ‘condensation nuclei’ substances in cloud seeding operations.



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