11.05.2009

Can we manipulate the weather?

· Chinese scientists claim to be able to control the weather. But is so-called geoengineering more than wishful thinking? And, if so, should we be worried?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/04/controlling-the-weather-china
www.guardian.co.uk - Weather Manipulation
The unseasonal snow that fell on Beijing for 11 hours on Sunday was the earliest and heaviest there has been for years. It was also, China claims, man-made. By the end of last month, farmland in the already dry north of China was suffering badly due to drought. So on Saturday night China's meteorologists fired 186 explosive rockets loaded with chemicals to "seed" clouds and encourage snow to fall. "We won't miss any opportunity of artificial precipitation since Beijing is suffering from a lingering drought," Zhang Qiang, head of the Beijing Weather Modification Office[!!!], told state media.
The US has tinkered with such cloud seeding to increase water flow from the Sierra Nevada mountains in California since the 1950s, but there remains widespread scientific sniffiness in the west at such attempts at weather control. The chemicals fired into the sky, usually dry ice or silver iodide, are supposed to provide a surface for water vapour to form liquid rain.
Chinese officials said the blue skies that brightened Beijing's parade to celebrate 60 years of communism last month were a result of the 18 cloud-seeding jets and 432 explosive rockets scrambled to empty the sky of rain beforehand. Last year, more than 1,000 rockets were fired to ensure a dry night for last year's Olympic opening ceremony.
"Only a handful of countries in the world could organise such large-scale, magic-like weather modification," Cui Lianqing, a senior meteorologist with the Chinese air force, told the Xinhua news agency after last month's parade.
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