Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov says he is sure the Air Force will repel any hostile clouds looking to rain on next week's Victory Day parade.
Russian pilots are past masters at seeding clouds to make rain fall away from major state events, and Mr Ivanov says they will repeat the feat for the Red Square party celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany.
The party is due to be attended by more than 50 world statesmen and Mr Ivanov says he will guarantee it will be held under a clear sky.
"Only the Defence Ministry can physically ensure a clear sky," he said in an interview with official daily Rossiskaya Gazeta to be published on Wednesday.
However, Russian meteorologists have suggested his pilots might be up against it, amid predictions of rain for the weekend and most of next week.
I'm going to gather up documentation of increasing use of cloud seeding technology for drought management in certain regions of the world and post it in this thread. There's been significant expansion of the use of this technology over the last two years as I'm sure many here have noticed.
HUA HIN, Thailand - Thick clouds gather in the night sky, passing over an orange full moon and spreading out to block the coming daylight. It is approaching hot season in Thailand - not a time for storms. But the skies have turned an unseasonable gray, and the sporadic sound of thunder ushers in the rains.
Thailand is suffering from one of the worst droughts in its recent history. Usable water stored in major dams across the country is 6% below last year's level, and water levels in the country's hardest-hit northeastern region are at their lowest ever.
Water in the country's major rivers has also fallen below record lows. The portion of the Moon River that flows through Buri Ram, for example, is 44 centimeters below the lowest level recorded in 2003, the last year Thailand experienced a major drought.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has expressed concern that the country's gross domestic product will be affected by the water shortage. The world's largest rice exporter has already had to cut back on exports, revising this year's export estimate by 15% to 8.5 million tonnes.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) estimated that drought-induced losses have already exceeded 14 billion baht (US$359 million), including 7.4 billion baht in damage to the agricultural sector and 7 billion baht in relief operation costs.
Other countries in the Mekong River region, such as Cambodia and Vietnam, are also suffering from drought. Thailand, however, appears to have one significant advantage over its neighbors: artificial rainmaking.
A royal response
In an effort to stimulate rain in the country's worst-hit areas, King Bhumibol Adulyadej is personally overseeing operations at a special Royal Rainmaking Center, expanding a unique cloud-seeding technique he patented in 2002 that could save the country millions of dollars in damage.
( ... )
Formula for success
The cloud-seeding technique involves the use of chemicals, such as sodium chloride or silver iodine, which are released into clouds to stimulate rainfall. The King began testing the process for which he holds the patent three decades ago. Hua Hin is the original base where these techniques were first used.
The process involves two separate steps - one that seeds warm clouds, and another for cold clouds - and is said to be particularly successful in that it can more precisely target areas where the rain is to fall. Though it is not patented for use outside Thailand, other countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines have expressed interest in learning the details of the King's technique, and teams have been sent there to discuss training methods.
This past Saturday, the aircraft in Hua Hin were sent out three times, at 9am, 10am and then again at 2pm. The first and second rounds included the four lower-flying aircraft, while the third round added the King Air. This last process is called the "Super Sandwich" technique and targets both hot and cold air clouds at different altitudes.
During this process, the King Air shoots silver iodine into cold-air clouds at 20,000 feet, while the small planes fly below and release one of six chemical formulas that stimulate the air mass upwind of the target area to rise and form rain clouds. The type of formula used depends on a variety of factors, such as weather, cloud type, altitude and time of day.
Soldiers from the army have been brought in to mix the chemicals and load them on to the planes. Each plane has at least two pilots, a radio technician, two workers from the aviation and rainmaking department who deal with the chemicals, and a coordinator who relays information between the center and the palace.
The pilots fly into target clouds based on forecasting information that the King Air collects. It takes about 30 minutes to release the 1,000-1,200 kilograms of chemicals that within only minutes on Saturday had already begun working. Black clouds gathered over Kaeng Krachan and rain began to fall before the plane had even hit the ground. Sometimes the team is lucky, Monthon said. Other times the process takes much longer, or doesn't have an effect at all.
Rain, rain all around
Between seven and 10 tons of chemicals were released on Saturday in Hua Hin alone. The operation has nearly doubled since the center was declared ahead of rainmaking operations.
Over the past month, 10 new sub-stations also have been established to help with cloud-seeding operations. They are temporary bases and will cease operation once the drought is under control, said Prinya Sudhikoses, with the Agriculture Ministry's Bureau of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation. Cloud seeding, however, will continue throughout the year.
Rainmaking operations occur every year in line with the rainmaking department's annual operations plan, the budget for which is set at about 1 billion baht ($25 million).
"We prepare for a situation like this every year," said Wathana Sukarnjanaset, director of the Bureau of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation. Tasked with heading the center in Hua Hin, he admitted that the situation this year was worse than in the past, but said the ministry had taken that into account and was adjusting its resources accordingly.
More people have been brought in to staff the center, but with operations increasing indefinitely, many more people need to be trained. The department could even face a labor shortage as the work has increased but the number of people in the department has remained the same, Prinya said..... (continued)
BEIJING _ With water increasingly scarce in its parched and heavily populated northeastern plain, China has become the world's leading rainmaker, using aircraft, rockets and even antiaircraft guns to seed the clouds for precious moisture.
The hunt for rain has become so intense that rival regions sometimes compete for clouds sailing across the sky. Provincial, county and municipal governments in 23 of the country's 34 provinces have set up what they call weather modification bureaus assigned to regularly bombard the heavens with chemicals in hopes of squeezing out more rainfall for demanding farmers and thirsty city dwellers among China's 1.3 billion residents.
The heavy cloud seeding is a dramatic example of China's increasing difficulty in finding enough natural resources _ from aluminum to oil and rubber _ as its economy expands rapidly and its huge population consumes more goods.
Imports of commodities from neighboring countries have shot up in recent years, for instance, and government oil company officials have traveled to Sudan and other distant lands in search of more fuel.
Hu Zhijin of the Weather Modification Research Center at the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Science said official statistics show that 30 modified aircraft, 6,900 antiaircraft guns and 3,800 rocket launchers, some mounted on trucks, were used repeatedly in attempts to change the weather across China's driest areas in 2003.
The effort is just as sustained this year, in response to drought conditions across a wide swath of the country, he said.
The result, he added, is that rainmakers across China have accumulated more hands-on practice than their counterparts elsewhere, wringing water from the clouds for season after season in intense government-sponsored programs.
"They have been doing it for a long time," he said. "They do it every year. They have more experience, and they invest more funds in it."
Ban Xianxiu, director of Liaoning province's Weather Modification Bureau, was at ease in a recent conversation discussing the fine points of rockets vs. antiaircraft guns for coaxing rain out of the clouds, which he and his staff do for a living.
The guns do better with small, fat clouds, he said, while rockets can spread chemicals over a wider area. Planes do so over a wider area still, if the clouds blow in as flat layers.
The Liaoning bureau, 350 miles northeast of Beijing, has salted the clouds about twice a month so far this year, he said during a visit to the capital. But for all their skill, he cautioned, China's rainmakers can work their magic only if the weather cooperates, by sending damp clouds near drought-affected areas.
"We can only modify the weather," Ban said. "We can't create it."
The resort to artificial rain has become so frequent in the drought-plagued northeast, experts and local officials reported, that some cities and counties have quarreled over gray clouds that drift in with the promise of moisture while rainmakers stand poised below with their weapons at the ready.
Five major regions of Henan province, about 400 miles south of Beijing, all seeded clouds around the same time last month during a bad dry spell. But one of them, Pingdingshan, got most of the rain that finally fell July 10, mostly because it was in the path of prevailing winds.
Pingdingshan measured more than four inches of rain, local meteorologists reported, while the nearby city of Zhoukou recorded only a little over an inch. Foul, cried Zhoukou's meteorological officials. They said the Pingdingshan Weather Modification Office repeatedly seeded clouds that, if nature had been allowed to follow its course, would have scudded along to other places _ such as Zhoukou _ before delivering their rainfall.
Nonsense, replied the Pingdingshan office. "We didn't grab the clouds away from other cities," declared the office director, who gave his name only as Wang.
"What we are doing is quite a scientific thing. And we reported our cloud-seeding schedule to the provincial government. I believe other cities also did so," Wang said in a telephone interview. "The water vapor resource is not like water resources in a river, which could be intercepted from points upstream. Or it is not like a cake _ if I have a bite, others get only a smaller piece. Besides, clouds change while floating in the sky, so it is quite complicated."
As do their counterparts elsewhere, Chinese rainmakers spread silver iodide or liquid nitrogen in moist clouds to produce ice crystals, which turn into rain as they fall to warmer air below. The chemical products can be sprayed from a plane or shot into the air with rockets _ sometimes 100 at a time _ or fired up by the antiaircraft guns using special shells roughly similar to fireworks, Hu explained.
Such science is widely known, he said, and was applied in the United States and elsewhere as early as the 1950s. But because of its severe weather problems, China has put the know-how to practical use more often than other countries in recent decades.
So far, he added, no signs have emerged that frequent cloud seeding harms the environment, but scientists are keeping an eye out.
As the practice spread, the Chinese central government in March 2002 handed down a directive regulating weather modification. Mainly, it mandated cooperation and information-sharing by provinces, counties and cities, and barred cloud seeding by unofficial groups.
The director of the Weather Modification Bureau in Jilin province, north of Beijing, said his staff files an annual cloud-seeding plan in line with the directive, but that the clouds' mobility and the uneven distribution of water vapor within them make the enterprise unpredictable at best.
Nevertheless, he said, his office frequently is in touch with neighboring provinces on cloud-seeding plans in the area, along the North Korean border.
"Sometimes we even have combined action with them," said the official, who insisted on being identified only as Zheng. "Although the effect would be great if several provinces work together when there is a huge cloud system in the sky, in reality, we seldom do that."
Hu said his years of research have showed that even the best efforts of China's rainmakers produce only a 10 percent or 15 percent increase in rainfall. In addition, he said, the vagaries of nature, such as wind direction and velocity, mean the effect of cloud seeding on any given locality is difficult to predict.
FARSON, Wyoming -- Each winter, Bonnie Moody watches the weather like a hawk from the Eden Valley Irrigation District's small shop here.
Moody, the district's manager and water master, is looking for winter days with just the right temperature, just the right wind direction and speed, and just the right kind of clouds in the sky. When conditions are right, Moody makes snow.
This year marks the third winter Moody has been working on a cloud-seeding program that aims to increase water in the district's Big Sandy Reservoir by boosting the snowpack in the nearby Wind River Mountains. The Wind Rivers are the main water source for the district's irrigation system.
"There is kind of a real art to this," Moody said during a recent demonstration of one of the district's cloud-seeding units.
Although Moody has been at it for just three years, the Eden Valley cloud-seeding effort has been under way since the 1960s, a result of research conducted by the University of Wyoming. The effort involves the use of burners to release silver iodide into clouds to enhance the potential for snowfall.
The irrigation district has done no research to determine if the project has boosted snowpack, but anecdotal information and data collected from snow course reading sites indicate there may be a 7 to 10 percent increase, Moody said.
Coming off years of drought, Wyoming water officials are proposing a dramatic expansion of cloud seeding. A proposed $8.825 million, state-funded weather modification program in the Medicine Bow/Snowy, Sierra Madre and Wind River ranges is intended to provide additional scientific data to help determine whether such seeding would increase snowpack.
The proposal would further test the theory that releasing silver iodide into the atmosphere at locations and times when there is moisture present could increase snowfall.
The study is supported by the Wyoming Water Development Commission, which has submitted a budget request for the project that will be considered by this year's Legislature.
Although the first weather modification permit in Wyoming was issued in 1951, no state-funded cloud-seeding program has been in operation. The Eden Valley project is funded by the irrigation district, Moody said, at an annual cost of $4,500, not counting labor.
Other states are also involved in weather modification projects. A program in Utah began in 1989 and by 2003 involved 130 ground-based generators, at an annual cost of $336,000. Ongoing modification programs also are under way in California's Sierra Nevadas.
In the 1960s and 1970s, professor John Marwitz and others from the UW Atmospheric Science Department conducted weather modification studies in the Eden-Farson Valley and on Elk Mountain in Carbon County. They did not seed clouds to boost snowpack. They were studying details of weather modification such as determining how fast ice crystals would grow.
From the data they collected, Marwitz said, "It always looked very promising" in the Farson area, with the potential for about a 10 percent increase in snowpack.
Although the Elk Mountain experiments weren't as promising, Marwitz said that area also had potential.
"I think there was probably a real possibility that we could have increased the snowpack there," he said.
The difference between the two areas relates to geography - the size and shape of the mountains in each location.
Marwitz said the key question related to the effectiveness of future weather modification projects in Wyoming is, "Will (the air) go up and over the mountain, or will it go around the mountain?"
In the early studies at Elk Mountain, the UW researchers found that the mountain was "too short" and that there was not adequate time for ice crystals to form once cloud-seeding materials were released. So instead of additional moisture falling on the mountain, what moisture accumulated as a result of the seeding mostly evaporated, and a limited amount fell on the east face of the mountain.
In the Eden-Farson area, however, the mountains are broader, so the modification studies there were more effective, Marwitz said. That led to the cloud-seeding project.
A key to effectiveness is location of burners and how air currents flow in specific areas.
"Every mountain is a little different. Every mountain has its unique characteristics. You have to do these kinds of tests somehow prior to actually seeding any mountain," Marwitz said.
No additional work was done in the Elk Mountain area, and UW halted all of its weather modification research in 1987, Marwitz said. He retired in 1999 and said he had intended to bid on the current feasibility study being done by Weather Modification Inc., of Fargo, N.D., but he missed a bid deadline.
The Eden Valley project targets the south end of the Wind Rivers when wind, temperature and cloud conditions are "right." The state's proposed project would expand the seeding operation to basically encircle the entire Wind River Range, said Bruce Boe, meteorologist for Weather Modification Inc.
The Wind River and Sierra Madre/Snowy Range weather modification program likely would involve the location of ground generators about 30 miles apart placed all around each of the ranges.
By comparison, Eden Valley's cloud-seeding effort is tiny. Three burners located along Wyoming Highway 191 are operated manually, but the district also has two propane-fire cloud seeders on Muddy Ridge that can be started by remote operators in Provo, Utah.
The district seeds clouds beginning around Nov. 15 if conditions are right and runs the program through the middle of April.
Moody said the cost of the silver iodide - about $2,500 per container - is the most expensive part of the program.
She said the district has noticed slight increases in precipitation since the program began, though there have never been any scientific studies to determine the precise effect of the effort.
"But the problem is, when we're in drought years, then we just don't get the clouds we need to seed, so it's kind of hard to tell," Moody said.
Some have expressed concern about the effect of cloud seeding on areas downwind from the projects. Wayne Platt, who ranches southeast of Encampment, questioned past effects of cloud seeding projects in Utah and Colorado and how they have affected weather conditions in the Sierra Madre and Snowy ranges.
"It seems to me the more you screw around with nature, the worse off you are," Platt said. "Why not let nature take its course?"
Saratoga rancher Scott Kerbs suggested the project should involve analysis by attorneys of potential effects to the state caused by lawsuits from people who believe they are harmed by cloud seeding.
"Everything upstream (upwind) of us has been sapping the moisture," Kerbs said, suggesting weather modification projects may be an "infringement on interstate commerce."
Marwitz said there is no scientific data about any effects downwind from cloud-seeding projects, but he said from his experience on Elk Mountain in the 1970s, there would be little effect.
How cloud seeding works
The concept: Cloud seeding is a process of adding chemicals - silver iodide - to the right kind of clouds to enhance the potential for snowfall. The clouds seeded are already usually close to snowing, but they may not be able to naturally produce the right type of particles to make that actually happen.
Getting it in the air: Once the chemicals are released into the clouds - through the use of aircraft or from ground-based burners that operate on solar, wind or battery power - wind transports and disperses the agent into the clouds.
What happens: The chemicals cause accelerated ice formation within the cloud, and there is then an increase in the precipitation mass, which leads to increased precipitation on the ground.
Sources: Bruce Boe, Weather Modification Inc., Fargo, N.D., and North American Weather Consultants, Salt Lake City
(More to come.)
Last Edit: May 14, 2005 0:24:23 GMT -5 by javelina
I want to see if adding underscores between the individual letters sets off the filter here.
I've never encountered a "filtering" problem in conjunction with Cheney's first name at any other forum.
I don't know what Proboard's policy is in this regard, but I imagine that a forum administrator would have some control over setting of filters. Perhaps you could ask Chem11. He's been a Proboard administrator for years now.
This isn't a major issue in the scheme of thingys, by the way. I was just a little surprised.