No rain dance necessary
US company Weather Modification International has capabilities of making it rain in certain areas. They use a technique called cloud-seeding, where planes target specific clouds to extract more rain from them.
Pilots travel to specific clouds with moisture in them and inject a silver iodide chemical into the clouds. The rain then compacts, becoming heavier, which causes it to plummet to the ground easier and in heavier doses. However, if a cloud contains no water, then WMI cannot create water – cloud seeding only works with clouds that have moisture already.
WMI has been around since 1961, but it has only recently received attention and funding. Climate change is becoming a significant problem, and government officials realize that. Because of the increase in droughts, companies and governments are starting to take action. In fact, according to the World Wildlife Fund, two-thirds of the world could face water shortage by 2025 (!).
Last year, the National Science Foundation funded an experiment to determine the effectiveness of cloud seeding. To help with the study, WMI provided the planes. Additionally, companies are starting to take notice. Idaho Power invested $3 billion to increase snowpack, compacted snow that melts slowly, in Idaho’s mountains.
Idaho Power has seen an 8%-15% increase in snowpack, which means it can power over 60,000 more homes, according to the firm. It has also seen a 300% return on its investment, which equates to $9 million.
However, cloud seeding has its critics. First, the addition of silver iodide into clouds poses environmental health questions – scientists are unsure about the long-term impact of this chemical, which almost makes the experiments even scarier. Plus, if one state gets added rain, how will it affect the following states? Might they get less rain because of the concentration in one area? And if that’s the case, why do they have the right to do that?
There are certainly some kinks that need to be worked out, but if WMI can appease the critics, then cloud seeding could significantly mitigate the world’s drought problem. Look out for WMI, as they will likely be making it rain in multiple ways in the coming years.
Featured image via Pixabay/Free-Photos