In a joint exercise, three nodal meteorological agencies led by a team of scientists from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) will soon carry out the final phase of a cloud seeding research programme for a possible application in the rain shadow regions in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

To aid the project undertaken as part of CAIPEX (Cloud Aerosol Interaction and Precipitation Enhancement Experiment) programme of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, aircraft, fitted with specialised instruments, will be hired from South Africa and Israel, and have an operational base in Hyderabad, said J R Kulkarni, IITM scientist, who is the Project Director, heading a team of 20 researchers.

The other two agencies involved in the two-year Rs 50-crore project envisaged to benefit the rain-starved regions of the three states, are Indian Meteorological Department and National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting.

“The second and the final operational phase of the project, to be completed before the current monsoon season, will include warm cloud seeding through salt and hygroscopic flares. The experiment will help in understanding as to how aerosol interact with cloud leading to enhancement of rain,” Mr. Kulkarni told PTI.

As part of the final phase operations, two aircraft will be used for seeding and suspending tiny particles in the atmosphere with the help of “C-band radar” to see the cloud.

“CAIPEX will help scientists identify methodology to enhance precipitation (rain),” he said, adding meteorological sub-divisions had been referred to select the peninsular rain shadow regions for the project.

The findings of the experiment in the specified region will be sent to the Ministry after compilation of the data, Mr. Kulkarni informed.

The Phase 1 of the project was carried out last year.

Noting that aerosols are used to provide embryos on which cloud droplets are formed, he said in the next phase of the CAIPEX programme, the seeding impact would be measured and analysed with automatic rain gauges.

“This experiment to enhance rainfall is continuing in many other countries, including Israel, China, Indonesia, Russia and Mexico. But we have the monsoon phenomenon which they do not have.”

“If the technology we are developing -- which is similar to the one used by other countries -- is found successful, it will help farmers in the rain shadow regions vulnerable to drought,” he maintained.

It can also be instrumental in effecting weather modification such as hail suppression and cloud dispersion, the scientist added.