Story at a glance
- Cloud seeding is a climate technology that can potentially increase the chance of rain.
- Many countries around the world have tried the weather modification process as a means to combat climate change.
- China has been employing cloud seeding technology since 2008, when it manipulated the weather around the Beijing summer Olympics.
The Chinese government successfully controlled the weather through a controversial climate practice ahead of a major political celebration it held earlier this year.
On July 1, the Chinese Communist Party marked its 100th anniversary and had a military flyover at Tiananmen Square along with a 100-gun salute, according to The New York Times. The occasion was also marked by an elaborate cloud seeding process, climate technology that introduces ice nuclei (silver iodide) into winter storms by deploying airplanes to release special burn flares within storm clouds.
Scientists believe that cloud seeding could increase precipitation and alleviate the effects of climate change. A new study from China’s Tsinghua University found that the government used cloud seeding to control rain and pollution in the capital ahead of its anniversary celebration.
According to the South China Morning Post, the Chinese government launched a large-scale operation to bring on rainfall over suburban Beijing and some neighboring areas hours before the July 1 event. Researchers found that the artificial rain reduced air pollutants by more than two-thirds and shifted the air quality index to good from moderate, based on the World Health Organization’s air quality index.
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This wouldn’t be the first time China tried cloud seeding, as the government spent billions of dollars to manipulate the weather ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics to reduce smog and avoid rain ahead of events.
China also announced last week that it would be developing a weather modification system by 2025 that would produce artificial rainfall over 5.5 million square kilometers (224,00 square miles).
Cloud seeding has been around since the 1940s, and more than 50 countries around the world have tried it, but as climate change has worsened in recent years the practice has taken on renewed popularity. States like Idaho, Wyoming and Oregon have found success in cloud seeding practices.
The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) published research last year that they believe demonstrated, “unambiguously that cloud seeding can boost snowfall across a wide area if the atmospheric conditions are favorable.”
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