Hazy gains

Experiment to evaluate cloud seeding begins

Published: Tuesday 28 February 2006

scientists at the us National Center for Atmospheric Research (ncar) have begun an experiment to evaluate cloud seeding, a precipitation enhancement technique mired in controversy.

The five-year, us $8.8 million project will be carried out in Wyoming, which has been experiencing drought for years in a row, according to ncar . As per the plan, Fargo-based private firm, Weather Modification Inc, will seed clouds with silver iodide in an attempt to increase snowfall over Wyoming's Medicine Bow, Sierra Madre and Wind River mountain ranges.

ncar scientists together with their counterparts in partner institutions such as the University of Wyoming King Air and the us Desert Research Institute have deployed both airborne and ground-based instruments to gather data. The first intense observation period lasted from mid-January till mid-February. The second phase of observation will be from March 10-31.

The scientists plan to look at cloud microphysics and aerosols prior to beginning the seeding operations. The scientists have mounted microwave radiometers to capture variations in clouds over the target areas, including amounts and duration of water vapour and liquid water in the clouds.

Cloud seeding has of late emerged as big business. Even in India, many states have been resorting to cloud seeding technique during the years of deficient rainfall. But studies to evaluate the method's effectiveness, at least on a large scale, have been inconclusive.

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