China to expand weather modification program to cover area larger than India

According to a statement from the State Council, China could have a “developed weather modification system” by 2025, thanks to breakthroughs in elementary analysis and key applied sciences, in addition to enhancements in “comprehensive prevention against safety risks.”

In the following 5 years, the overall area coated by synthetic rain or snowfall will attain 5.5 million sq km, whereas over 580,000 sq km (224,000 sq miles) will probably be coated by hail suppression applied sciences. The assertion added that the program will assist with catastrophe reduction, agricultural manufacturing, emergency responses to forest and grassland fires, and coping with unusually excessive temperatures or droughts.

As an idea, cloud seeding has been around for decades. It works by injecting small quantities of silver iodide into clouds with plenty of moisture, which then condenses across the new particles, turning into heavier and ultimately falling as precipitation.
A study funded by the US National Science Foundation, revealed earlier this 12 months, found that “cloud seeding can boost snowfall across a wide area if the atmospheric conditions are favorable.” The examine was one of many first to confirm definitively that cloud seeding labored, as beforehand it had been difficult to distinguish precipitation created because of the apply from regular snowfall.
That uncertainty had not stopped China investing closely within the expertise: between 2012 and 2017, the country spent over $1.34 billion on numerous weather modification packages. Last 12 months, according to state news agency Xinhua, weather modification helped scale back 70% of hail harm in China’s western area of Xinjiang, a key agricultural area.
And whereas different nations have additionally invested in cloud seeding, including the US, China’s enthusiasm for the expertise has created some alarm, significantly in neighboring India, the place agriculture is closely depending on the monsoon, which has already been disrupted and become less predictable as a result of climate change.
India and China recently faced off alongside their shared — and hotly disputed — border in the Himalayas, with the 2 sides partaking of their bloodiest conflict in a long time earlier this 12 months. For years, some in India have speculated that weather modification may probably give China the sting in a future battle, given the significance of circumstances to any troop actions within the inhospitable mountain area.

Though the first focus of Beijing’s weather modification seems to be home, specialists have warned there may be the potential for affect past the nation’s borders.

In a paper last year, researchers at National Taiwan University stated that the “lack of proper coordination of weather modification activity (could) lead to charges of ‘rain stealing’ between neighboring regions,” each inside China and with different nations. They additionally pointed to the shortage of a “system of checks and balances to facilitate the implementation of potentially controversial projects.”

“The scientific evidence and political justification for weather modification is not subject to debate or broad discussion (in China),” the authors wrote. “In addition, the leadership’s propensity for technological intervention in taming different weather systems is rarely challenged by alternative viewpoints.”

Some specialists have speculated that success in weather modification may lead China to undertake extra ambitious geoengineering projects, significantly because the nation suffers from the results of local weather change. Radical options reminiscent of seeding the ambiance with reflective particles may theoretically assist scale back temperatures, however may even have main unexpected penalties, and plenty of specialists worry what may occur were a country to experiment with such techniques.
“Without regulation, one country’s efforts could affect other countries,” according to Dhanasree Jayaram, a local weather knowledgeable on the Manipal Academy of Higher Education in Karnataka, India.

“While China has not yet shown signs of ‘unilaterally’ deploying geoengineering projects on the ground, the scale of its weather modification and other massive engineering projects, including mega-dam projects (such as the Three Gorges), suggests China is willing to deploy large-scale geoengineering schemes to tackle the impacts of climate change and achieve its Paris targets.”

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