SKI SCIENCE: Cloud seeding, communists, and capitalists

Posted By: Zeke Piestrup on November 1, 2009 10:00 am

Snow cloud seeding, state sponsored in China, is a still-developing, but very old technology.  Winter Park and Vail both spend $140k a year on cloud seeding.  Tahoe seeded clouds for 30 years, until recently suspending the program.  Mountain communities, dependent upon good snow packs, are certainly paying attention to developments. 

“We wont miss any opportunity of artificial precipitation since Beijing is suffering from the lingering drought,” said Zhang Qiang, head of the Beijing Weather Modification Office.

This is crazy interesting stuff to follow.  What are the ethical and environmental implications?  Is it fear of a new technology?

Does it really work?

China thinks so.  Their politicians think so, as neighboring regions accuse seeders of “rain stealing.”  In Russia, Putin, wanting to keep the diplomats dry, deployed air force jets to seed clouds ahead of the G8 summit in 2006.  It rained anyway.  Two weeks ago, the mayor of Moscow promised “a winter without snow.”  Heretic.

The Steinbomber wrote earlier about Vail and Winter Park’s combined $140k on snow seeding.

The problems with this? The main one is that even if the generators shoot the particles right at the storm clouds (which in of itself is a difficult process), what’s to stop the clouds from drifting away from the resort? You can control what goes into the clouds, but you can’t control where they go. Yet…mwahaha…

From the mwahaha perspective came Matt Drudge’s front page headline on Sunday, BEIJING’S FIRST SNOW OF SEASON ‘ARTIFICIALLY INDUCED’.

Hey, just link it with China and it has to be bad.  As he turns up his iPod. 

Oh, and the U.S. uses cloud seeding extensively, from drought spots to reducing fog at airports.  Most developed countries continue to experiment with cloud seeding. 

A report from The American Meteorological Society cites statistical evidence of seasonal precipitation increases of 10%, even though “the physical cause-and-effect relationships have not been fully documented.”

The effectiveness of cloud seeding will continue to be debated and developed.  A technology more than a hundred years in the making may just shepherd us into the era of the Water Wars.  mwahaha…


Zeke Piestrup ( More Posts)

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