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Cloud seeding technology

Cloud Seeding Technology

Why in the news Cloud seeding technology?

Recently Delhi government planned to implement a cloud seeding technology to reduce pollution.

What is cloud seeding technology?

Cloud seeding is a sort of weather manipulation that tries to modify the kind or quantity of precipitation that falls from clouds, by releasing materials into the atmosphere that act as ice nuclei or cloud condensation. This changes the microphysical processes that occur within the cloud. There is disagreement over how effective it is; according to certain research, it is “difficult to show clearly that cloud seeding has a huge effect.” Increasing precipitation (rain or snow) is the common goal, either for its purpose or to stop precipitation from falling in the following days.

How it works?

Spreading dry ice or, more frequently, silver iodide aerosols into the top part of clouds in an attempt to initiate precipitation and generate rain is known as cloud seeding.

To condense smaller particles into larger rain droplets, clouds are sprayed with chemicals by planes using cloud seeding technology.

Rainfall rates can be increased by 10% to 30% per year using cloud seeding, and the method is far less expensive than desalination.

Cloud seeding technology

What are the methodologies used in Cloud seeding technology?

Salts
  • The most often utilized substances for cloud seeding are dry ice (solid carbon dioxide), potassium iodide, and silver iodide. Propane liquid, which turns into a gas, has also been employed. Compared to silver iodide, this can generate ice crystals at higher temperatures.
  • The usage of hygroscopic materials—like table salt—is growing in popularity following encouraging studies.
  • Increased snowfall occurs during cloud seeding when temperatures inside the clouds are between −20 and −7 °C.
  • Freezing nucleation is brought about by the introduction of a material like silver iodide, which has a crystalline structure resembling that of ice.
Electric bills
  • New technology has been used in the United Arab Emirates since 2021: drones carrying a payload of sensors and electric-charge emission equipment fly at low altitudes, charging air molecules with electricity.
  • In July 2021, this strategy created a large-scale downpour. For example, on July 20–21, 6.9 millimeters of rain fell in Al Ain.
Pulses of infrared lasers
  • In 2010, University of Geneva researchers tested an electronic device by aiming infrared laser pulses into the air above Berlin.
  • According to the experimenters, the pulses would cause atmospheric nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide to combine to form particles that would then function as seeds.

Types of cloud seeding technology

Static Cloud Seeding:

 In this technique, liquid water droplets that have super cooled in cold clouds are seeded with ice nuclei, such as dry ice or silver iodide. Ice crystals, often known as snowflakes, can form around the ice nucleus and expand at the expense of liquid droplets before falling as precipitation.

Dynamic cloud seeding:

Rain can be induced by a technique called “dynamic cloud seeding,” which involves increasing vertical air currents. Because it depends on a number of interconnected processes happening as intended, the process is thought to be more complicated than static cloud seeding.

Hygroscopic Cloud Seeding:

This technique entails shooting tiny hygroscopic materials—like salts—into the base of heated clouds using explosives or flares. By increasing the quantity and size of cloud droplets, the particles may serve as nuclei for cloud condensation and improve the stability and reflectivity of the clouds.

 

Cloud seeding technology in India

In India, cloud seeding operations were conducted during the years 1983, 1984–87,1993-94 by Tamil Nadu Government due to severe drought. In the years 2003 and 2004, Karnataka government initiated cloud seeding. Cloud seeding operations were also conducted in the same year through US-based Weather Modification Inc. in the state of Maharashtra

 

Effectiveness and analysis of cloud seeding technology.

According to a 2003 assessment published by the US National Research Council (NRC), “Science cannot definitively state which seeding procedures, if any, have beneficial impacts. Considerable progress has been made in comprehending the natural systems responsible for our everyday weather in the fifty-five years since the initial cloud-seeding demonstrations. However, there is currently no evidence of meaningful seeding effects that are deemed acceptable by science.

According to a 2010 Tel Aviv University study, using substances like frozen carbon dioxide and silver iodide in cloud seeding techniques to increase rainfall appears to have little to no effect on precipitation totals. According to a 2011 study, aircraft could create ice particles by freezing cloud droplets that cool as they pass over the tips of propellers, over wings or jet aircraft, and thereby unintentionally seed clouds. This could have potentially serious consequences for particular hailstone formations.

Benefits of cloud seeding technology
Increased Precipitation: The primary goal of cloud seeding is to enhance precipitation, particularly rainfall or snowfall. This can be beneficial in areas facing water scarcity or drought conditions.

 

Water Resource Management: Cloud seeding can contribute to water resource management by increasing the availability of water in reservoirs, rivers, and aquifers. This is crucial for agriculture, drinking water supply, and other water-dependent industries.

 

Agricultural Benefits: Adequate precipitation resulting from cloud seeding can benefit agriculture by providing the necessary moisture for crops. This can be especially important during dry periods.

 

Wildfire Prevention: In some regions, cloud seeding is explored as a tool for preventing wildfires by inducing rainfall. Increased moisture levels can reduce the risk of wildfires, protecting ecosystems and property.

 

Snowpack Enhancement: Cloud seeding is sometimes used in mountainous regions to enhance snowpack. This can contribute to a more reliable and prolonged water supply, particularly in areas that depend on snowmelt for downstream water availability.

 

Hail Suppression: Cloud seeding has been studied as a potential method for suppressing hail formation in thunderstorms. By introducing seeding agents, the formation of larger hailstones may be hindered, reducing damage to crops and property.

 

Weather Modification Research: Cloud seeding experiments provide valuable data and insights into cloud physics and atmospheric processes. This research can contribute to a better understanding of weather patterns and potentially lead to improved weather forecasting.

 

Environmental Impact: Proponents argue that cloud seeding has a relatively low environmental impact compared to other water management strategies. It avoids large-scale infrastructure projects and can be targeted to specific areas.

 

Challenges associated with cloud seeding technology.

Cloud seeding, while offering potential benefits, also faces various challenges and drawbacks. Some of the key drawbacks and concerns associated with cloud seeding technology include:

Uncertain Effectiveness: The effectiveness of cloud seeding remains a subject of debate. Results can vary based on atmospheric conditions, geography, and the type of seeding agents used. The scientific community often calls for more extensive and conclusive research.

 

Environmental Impact: The introduction of seeding agents into clouds raises environmental concerns. Some of the commonly used materials, such as silver iodide, may have ecological implications. The long-term effects on ecosystems, water bodies, and air quality need further investigation.

 

Ethical and Legal Issues: Cloud seeding raises ethical questions related to weather modification. Determining who has the authority to modify weather patterns, potential conflicts between neighboring regions, and the impact on downstream water users can lead to legal and ethical complexities.

 

Unintended Consequences: Altering precipitation patterns may have unintended consequences. For example, increasing rainfall in one area might lead to reduced precipitation in downstream regions, affecting water availability and ecosystems.

 

Lack of Control: Weather systems are complex and interconnected. Attempts to modify precipitation in one area may have unpredictable effects on weather patterns and climate in other regions. The lack of control over these broader consequences is a significant drawback.

 

Limited Scope: Cloud seeding is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It may be effective under certain conditions, but its applicability is limited to specific atmospheric and geographical contexts. As a result, it may not be a viable solution for all regions facing water scarcity or drought.

 

Public Perception and Trust: Public perception of cloud seeding can be a challenge. Concerns about the safety of seeding agents, the potential for unintended consequences, and the lack of public understanding can impact trust in the technology.

 

Cost-Effectiveness: Implementing and maintaining cloud seeding programs can be costly. The expenses associated with aircraft, ground-based generators, and monitoring equipment may outweigh the perceived benefits, especially if the effectiveness is uncertain.

 

Need for Robust Research: Some critics argue that there is a lack of comprehensive and independent research on cloud seeding. The scientific community emphasizes the need for rigorous studies to assess the technology’s efficacy, environmental impact, and long-term consequences.

 

International Cooperation: Weather patterns do not adhere to political boundaries. Implementing cloud seeding programs in one region may affect weather conditions in neighboring countries. This necessitates international cooperation and agreement on the use of such technologies.

 

Conclusion:

Despite the possible advantages, it’s crucial to remember that cloud seeding’s efficacy might vary depending on several variables, including local topography, seeding agent type, and meteorological conditions. Furthermore, the scientific community and politicians are still debating issues related to environmental effects, ethical issues, and the necessity of thorough scientific review. To mitigate these disadvantages, sustained scientific investigation, vigilant oversight, and open dialogue with the general public are necessary as they will help many arid and semi-arid countries, also the potential use in polluted cities like Delhi, and Bangalore is of keen interest. It is crucial to establish a balance between the possible advantages of cloud-seeding technologies and the moral, environmental, and social issues surrounding their use as they develop.

Source: the indian express