Chinese weather specialists used chemicals to engineer Beijing’s heaviest rainfall of the year, helping to relieve drought and rinse dust from China’s capital, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Friday. The Los Angeles Times relayed this story from China yesterday.
I’m not an expert in weather modification, but I know a little about it. Cloud seeding has been tried in the past and the results are usually less than desired.
Let me start at the essence – to see a cloud, you need a cloud. So, if you’re thinking of going to the Gobi and planting flowers, forget it.
You also need the proper temperature structure. Cloud seeding promotes the formation of ice crystals which, being too heavy to remain suspended in the cloud, fall to earth, melting on the way down. Voila – it’s rain.
I am worried that someone in China is selling a bill of goods to the government – making this seem more reliable than it really is. The fact that a single episode is squarely credited with record rainfall seems foolhardy at best and certainly non-scientific.
In science, when something happens without proper controls and protocols being in place, it’s called anecdotal evidence. It is interesting to look at, and probably spurs more study, but you can’t draw conclusions from anecdotes.
From the article, it looks like that’s just what they’ve done!
More important than the lack of rain is the terrible condition of Chinese air quality – the reason they needed this rain in the first place.
Judging by video I’ve seen, and first hand reports from friends and relatives who’ve visited, China’s air is not fit for breathing! City vistas are yellow with haze.
I just did a quick check on the weather in Beijing (not their most industrial city) and found a few hours yesterday when the reported weather condition was “smoke!”
We’re not perfect here, but many of the pollutants China is putting into the atmosphere have been brought under control in the states (many – not all, by any means). That means, probably for the cost savings, China has chosen not to use currently available technology.
I’m not a big worrier when it comes to human induced climate modification (aka – global warming), but if you are, what’s being done in Beijing should scare the daylights out of you. Whatever moisture falls from seeding is moisture unavailable for cloudiness (and rain) downstream.
There was once a commercial where the tag line was, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.” Correct.