China Ramps up Efforts for Weather Control, Neighbors WorryEnvironment | February 19, 2021, Friday // 15:11| views
In recent months, China has stepped up its attempts to gain control over the weather, mainly aiming to be able to cause rain in drought-stricken areas.
In December, China's state council announced that by 2025, the weather control program would cover about half of the country's territory. We are talking about an area that is 20 times the size of the UK. The goal is to control rain- and snowfalls in this area. The statement said the program would help mitigate disasters, respond to wildfire emergencies and deal with unusually high temperatures or droughts.
Beijing's first attempts were made before the 2008 Olympics and aimed to reduce smog.
Over he span of five years, between 2012 and 2017, China spent more than USD 1.34 billion on the project in search of solutions.
In January this year, a specially designed weather modification drone of the Chinese Meteorological Administration - Ganlin-1 performed its first flight. Ganlin in translation means "sweet rain". The drone was created as part of a project launched in March 2019 to trigger rain in a mountainous area suffering from persistent drought.
Ganlin-1 is a modified version of a Chinese military aircraft and can fly over 14 hours. It carries on board various weather sensors, as well as a catalyst for "seeding clouds". Its developers say it can identify the optimal area for cloud seeding, release the catalyst and measure the effects afterwards.
As a concept, "cloud seeding" has been known for decades. It is about injecting small amounts of silver iodide into clouds with a lot of moisture, which then condenses around the new particles, they get heavier and fall in the form of rain or snow.
A US National Science Foundation study published last year found that "cloud seeding” can increase rainfalls in a given area if weather conditions are favorable." The study was one of the first to show that "cloud seeding" works, as until now it has been difficult to distinguish rainfalls created artificially from natural ones.
However, China's enthusiasm for developing this technology has raised concerns in neighboring India, where agriculture is heavily dependent on the monsoon already affected by climate change.
In addition, India and China have a territorial dispute in the Himalayas, which has been exacerbated in recent months and periodically led to clashes. In India, they fear that weather modification could potentially give China an advantage in a possible future conflict, given the importance of weather conditions for any troop movement in this inhospitable mountain region.
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