What technologies exist to control the weather

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(ORDO NEWS) — Global warming promises to make the climate in many countries more arid. This threatens world hunger, fires and an energy crisis.

However, meteorologists are not going to wait for favors from nature. Today, technology already allows you to make rain – although it is still imperfect.

In 2022, a wave of unprecedented drought swept the world. Many countries, including in Europe, have lost huge amounts of crops. European Commission experts called this year’s drought the worst in 500 years.

Due to the shallowing of rivers in China, navigation was disrupted, and energy production at hydroelectric plants decreased by 40%. The United States, Pakistan and Thailand also suffered.

Precipitation management technology could be the answer to the climate attack. Although even weather prediction has not yet been fully controlled, “rain-causing” technologies have been around for more than half a century. And today more and more countries are developing them, including Russia.

Frightening fantasy and harmless reality

In the novel “Cat’s Cradle” Kurt Vonnegut described a hypothetical substance – ice-nine. Unlike ordinary ice, it melts at a temperature of 45.8 degrees.

And upon contact with water, it turns it into the same ice-nine. Thus, once in open water, ice-nine could seep into the ocean and cause the death of all life.

This idea came to Vonnegut not by accident. His brother Bernard Vonnegut was a well-known meteorological scientist in the United States and was just experimenting with a substance that would act as ice.

However, much more harmless. He was one of the first to develop a method of controlling the weather with the help of chemicals.

For it to rain, the water that has accumulated in the clouds must crystallize – turn into small ice grains. This usually happens when the temperature in the cloud falls below freezing.

But one day, during an expedition to Puerto Rico in 1949, Vonnegut the scientist noticed that heavy rainfall can occur even in the absence of snow or ice.

He began to study how this happens, to set up experiments – and came to the conclusion that centers of crystallization should appear in the cloud – tiny solid particles on which water freezes.

After numerous experiments, Vonnegut discovered that silver iodide resembles ice in its crystal structure and even a relatively small amount of it causes strong condensation of water.

In 1947, Vonnegut triumphantly sprayed silver iodide on the top of Mount Washington and caused a flurry of snow (it was in January) – and an unprecedented stir.

Since then, the production of precipitation has become an industrial technology, and specialists have become known as rainmakers (literally – “rainmakers”).

Some states in America have attempted to regulate this activity, sparking the cloud ownership debate and conspiracy theories about intoxicant-spraying planes.

Air fleet against drought and fires

Calling artificial rain with the help of reagents occurs as follows: an air squadron rises into the air and sprays silver compounds or other substances with a similar effect at high altitude. Today, ground-controlled drones do the same.

For example, in 2017, such technology began to be used in Iran and the United Arab Emirates.

According to calculations, the use of drones can increase the amount of precipitation by 15–20%, but so far this is only an experimental method, and it is too early to talk about its effectiveness.

The use of reagents is expensive, which is why this method is rarely used in Russian agriculture. But in countries with frequent droughts, it can be cost-effective.

For example, China is implementing the world’s largest project to create artificial rain. In the foothills of Tibet, there is a system of devices that release particles of silver iodide into the air.

According to government plans, an additional 10 billion tons of precipitation should raise the water level in the rivers and irrigate 1.6 million square kilometers. km of sown fields.

In addition to stimulating agriculture, “rain bombardment” is effective against large forest fires. With the help of artificial precipitation, up to 40 thousand tons of water can be poured onto a burning forest, while fire planes can hold only one thousandth of this volume.

At the same time, this technology has flaws. It is necessary to accurately calculate the place and time of sowing, as well as the dose of chemicals.

If you overdo it, then due to too active crystallization, the formation of precipitation will, on the contrary, be slowed down. However, the results can vary greatly due to the physical properties of the clouds.

“Just as no two people are exactly the same, there is no cloud that is no different from another cloud,” said Roelof Bruntjes of the US National Center for Atmospheric Research.

“Artificial fire” from a cannon

But, perhaps, the main problem is that the seeding technology does not work with a cloudless sky. This means that areas with an arid climate, where the lack of rain is most felt – Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia – just will not receive the necessary moisture.

As an alternative, scientists use meteotrons – installations for creating powerful ascending air currents. This method is based on the cumulus cloud formation model. They are formed by the action of heat, when warm masses rise into the sky during fires and eruptions.

For example, during World War II, American aircraft bombed the city of Hamburg and dropped more than 2,000 bombs there.

The whole of Hamburg was on fire, and the convection of hot air over the fire led to the development of a powerful shower cloud that extinguished the fire. Today, this effect is used purposefully for more peaceful purposes.

Attempts to apply this approach began in the 1980s. Then scientists achieved the desired effect by burning a large amount of oil products.

But funding was stopped due to the difficult economic situation in the USSR. In addition, the emission of gases greatly polluted the atmosphere. Now scientists have returned to a forgotten idea.

“For the method to work, the jet must rise to the lower boundary of the convective cloud, i.e. to a height of about 3–4 km from the ground,” explains Robert Zakinyan, professor at the Department of General and Theoretical Physics of the North Caucasus Federal University, an expert in the field of cloud and atmospheric physics. jet has reached the lower edge of the cloud, you need to set it at a speed of 25 to 100 meters per second.

Otherwise, it will dissipate in the air. Turbojet engines, like on airplanes, can provide such a speed.”

However, such powerful installations will consume a lot of energy. Zakinyan and his team plan to solve this problem by adding a reagent directly to the meteortron jet.

The chemical composition of the reagent includes sodium and calcium chlorides, as well as carbamide, which increase the energy and speed of the upward air flow. While the experiments continue.

Bacteria help cool clouds

You can seed clouds with more than just chemicals. In a cubic meter of an ordinary rain cloud live from 300 to 30 thousand microbes. Including Pseudomonas Syringae.

This bacterium can turn water into ice even at relatively high temperatures. It was discovered more than a hundred years ago when unusual signs of frostbite were found in diseased plants.

It turned out that “ice” microbes live in the air, but are carried with snow and rain. But the main thing is that they are easy to grow in the laboratory.

Pseudomonas Syringae produces a special IN protein (stands for ice nucleation, translated as “ice formation”), which is located on its surface in the form of a lattice.

Water molecules, falling on it, line up in a grid and, due to such a rigid positioning, begin to form crystals.

This frozen core attracts more and more water to itself and as a result becomes larger and heavier. As a result, such a massive structure can no longer remain in the air and falls to the ground in the form of raindrops.

In theory, this method can cause rain even in a drought. “If you introduce these bacteria into the cloud, they will begin the process of freezing, which will lead to rain,” confirms biologist Brent Christner from the University of Florida.

“The only question remains, are there many of them in the clouds to have a significant effect on precipitation.”

Using weather balloons and airplanes, scientists are taking samples to understand how Pseudomonas Syringae behaves when transported in the clouds.

At the same time, the question remains how safe such “exploitation” of bacteria will be for agricultural plants, which will be irrigated with its help. Do not forget that in the wild it causes disease.

Most weather control methods today can only solve local problems.

Air masses are still too unpredictable to learn how to manage them effectively. But the frequency of droughts and fires can increase development funding. So, rainmakers will be in demand.


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