Clouds over Maharashtra will have a silver iodide lining

State government responds to frequent droughts in Vidarbha with a three-year cloud seeding experiment

February 16, 2017 02:00 am | Updated 02:22 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Seeding involves spraying chemicals into clouds. File photo

Seeding involves spraying chemicals into clouds. File photo

During monsoon 2017, weather scientists will fly airplanes loaded with silver iodide over clouds hovering above Solapur, Maharashtra and begin a three-year investigation into an old question: does cloud seeding produce sufficient rain?

The ₹250-crore programme, coordinated by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, will be the first controlled experiment to quantify the extent to which clouds form water drops large enough to make rain.

Seeding involves spraying chemicals into clouds. China used the technique during the 2008 Olympics to veer rain away from the inaugural venue and now has a full-fledged department that blasts rockets into clouds to induce rain and control pollution. “The benefits of cloud seeding aren’t well understood. Lots of organisations make claims,” Madhavan Rajeevan, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, said. “It’s time we have a proper scientific evaluation that State governments can rely upon.”

Maharashtra has frequently toyed with the idea of cloud seeding because of the frequency of droughts over the Vidarbha region. The State Cabinet had approved a plan to seed clouds for 113 hours with a rainfall level of 1,381mm, at ₹28 crore. However above-normal rains pushed the plan to the back-burner.

 

For their experiment, scientists will fly two aircraft and spray dry ice and silver iodide on 100 clouds and compare them with 100 unseeded clouds. Ground radar will track the clouds and verify which ones contributed rain. The programme will account for the variability of the monsoon. The move is part of a larger experiment of the Earth Sciences Ministry to understand how clouds and aerosols interact and influence climate.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.