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 Post subject: Cloud Seeding
PostPosted: 27 Aug 2009, 15:10 
No mention of the negative effects of these chemicals on human or wildlife.

Green Inc. - Energy, the Environment and the Bottom Line
August 27, 2009, 9:10 am
In the Pursuit of ‘Weather Modification’
By Kate Galbraith
SeedingThe Associated Press A wing-mounted generator emits particles of silver iodide into the clouds over circular fields of crops in western Kansas.

Last week Nevada announced the end of a cloud-seeding program due to budget cuts.

But the concept — sometimes referred to as rain-making — remains well-entrenched across the West and Midwest, according to Arlen Huggins, a scientist with the Desert Research Institute, which had operated the Nevada program.

In simplest terms, planes or ground generators are used to seed clouds with silver iodide, which, the thinking goes, spurs the growth of ice crystals that eventually turn into snow or rain.
graphic The list of aspirants conjuring ways to spur rainfall is long. Click the image to see a brief time line.

Whether or not this actually works, of course, depends on whom you ask, and the scientific community remains somewhat divided over the technique, which has been pursued for more than half a century. (Spurring rain artificially in a variety of ways has been pondered much longer. See the graphic at right.)

As Jeff Hill noted in The Times magazine last year, the National Research Council, in 2003, conducted a thorough review of the literature and concluded that there is “no convincing scientific proof of the efficacy of intentional weather modification efforts.”

Still, many adherents — including Mr. Huggins — remain convinced, and see it as an effective, if somewhat inexact way to boost mountain snowpack in order to raise electric output from dams, and also to increase water supplies for irrigation.

According to Mr. Huggins, the results generally show a 5 percent to 10 percent increase in snowfall from “seeded” areas versus “unseeded” areas — though he conceded that measuring success is difficult: “It’s not like a laboratory where you can make sure everything is exactly the same from case to case,” he said.

In states like California, Nevada, Idaho, Utah and Colorado, cloud seeding is done mainly in the winter to increase snowfall, Mr. Huggins said. Midwestern states tend to use the technique in the summer, for purposes of “rain enhancement or hail suppression,” he said. Some of the major cloud-seeding companies are located in the West and Midwest, including Weather Modification Inc. of Fargo, N.D., and Utah-based North American Weather Consultants.

Idaho Power, which generates much of its electricity from dams, has been using cloud seeding since 2003, at a cost of about $850,000 per year for its main program in the Payette River area, officials there said.

“We’ve found our targeting to be good, and we’ve found precipitation increases in the 7 to 9 percent range during years that were very much less than normal snowpack years,” said Shaun Parkinson, who leads the utility’s cloud seeding project and is considering expanding it.

Idaho Power believes that in the winter of 2007, its weather modification efforts added enough water to the Payette and Snake Rivers to provide an additional 50,000 megawatt-hours of electricity at one of its major hydropower complex – the equivalent of a year’s power for nearly 4,000 homes.

Over the long term, could climate change — with its prospect of increased droughts — lead more states to investigate rain-making?

Mr. Huggins pointed to several strategies that are likely to be used more. “Some of it is water saving measures — new irrigation practices, more crops that use less water, desalinization projects,” he said. “All of those come into play; cloud seeding is ju

Climate Change, Government Policy, The Environment, Water Conservation, innovations, cloud-seeding, clouds, Desert Research Institute, Idaho, Idaho Power, snowpack, water, water management, weather


1. August 27, 2009 10:10 am Link

The U.S. government used to be a leader in weather modification research. Most notably, the Department of the Interior (Bureau of Reclamation) supported research as far back as 1961. After some negative findings took the shine off some of the claims of precipitation increase (mostly from those in the business of cloud seeding), funding for these activities dropped drastically around the mid 1980s.

This was an unfortunate development, as much remains to be known about how to seed clouds effectively. I helped administer a small six state research program from 2002-2006. Partly as a result of the findings from this program, I firmly believe that precipitation can be increased in the neighborhood of 5-10%, as cited in this article. The trouble is that the seeding has to be conducted and evaluated scientifically and rigorously, and that takes money. Most operational cloud seeding programs don’t have this kind of money. So we continue to be in the dark about effectiveness. In this case, you do get what you pay for. But it’s still a lot cheaper and less intrusive to the environment than dam building, river diversions, and desalinization. What is needed is to educate people enough to support more research in the field. Only then can we tap this great potential for an increasingly water-thirsty world.
— Steven Hunter
2. August 27, 2009 10:27 am Link

Satellite photos of the pacific northwest often show signs of weather modification experiments that are much more widespread than simple cloud seeding. People are now able to move storms from one area to another. The drought stricken southwest is trying to move storms that would have washed the dry hillsides of Oregon into the Colorado basin where cities like Phoenix and LA can utilize the water they produce. It’s the latest episode in the ever expanding water wars. A bill was just introduced in the Senate that would provide government funding for weather modification experiments. As the article above states, most of the funding now comes from private sources.
— Alden Moffatt
3. August 27, 2009 1:52 pm Link

Really interesting. i didn’t know this technology existed. It seems like with more research it could impact states and countries with large hydro electric capabilities and increase the output but I’m not sure it will combat global warming.
— woah
4. August 27, 2009 2:34 pm Link

Will we ever learn?
“Weather modification”; the term itself causes me great concern! I believe we are asking for trouble and serious trouble at that. This may be one of the biggest hurdles we face at this current point in human evolution. Rather than modifying human behavior to act more in accordance with the Earths natural processes, we continue to spend incredible amounts of money and resources in an effort to work against nature rather than work with it. Are we really so arrogant as to believe that we have the depth of knowledge or an adequate understanding of the intricacies’ of Earths planetary processes that we can effect changes and know what the long term results are going to be? If we expect to survive we need to recognize our place as a species living “on” this planet rather than “owning” it. Earth was here long before us and it will be here long after we are gone.
We should turn our efforts and resources toward figuring out how we should adapt to surviving in harmony with the earth rather than in conflict with it. We can do, we should it, I hope we will do it in time. Will the children of generation to come look back at us and wonder how we could have been so naive” or will they be thankful for the wisdom of our generation. Let’s do our best to ensure the later.

C Hanson
— C Hanson
5. August 27, 2009 2:51 pm Link

Are there any negative impacts to the environment caused by spraying cloud seeding chemicals? It is hard to imagine that technologies that are able to change something as formidable as the weather are otherwise completely innocuous.
— Bob of Portsmouth

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