We have mastered the science of creating rain which is important to supply water in drought-hit areas. This is in the realm of simple weather modification. Controlling more powerful weather systems like tornadoes and hurricanes requires more advanced technology, which we do not have now.
Humans haven’t completely reached the ability to control and harness the planet’s natural forces. It may take 100-200 years or more to develop such technology, but humans have attempted to control the weather for the past 200 years.
Here, we take a look at the ideas proposed and technologies applied in the quest for weather modification, and we’ll see how they would benefit the established framework of our life.
1. Making Rain
General Electric chemist Vincent Schaefer discovered the principle of “cloud seeding” in July 1946. Schaefer’s colleague, atmospheric scientist Dr. Bernard Vonnegut, combined silver and iodide chemicals to produce silver iodide.
Aside from silver iodide, potassium iodide and dry ice are also used and dispersed by aircraft into the clouds to produce rain shower or Snow. Considered a dependable and affordable tool to improve rain precipitation and is used around the world.
2. Diverting Rain
One noted agency tasked with weather control is the Beijing Weather Modification office. It employs 37,000 people nationwide and is focused on hail storm prevention or making rain to end droughts.
Their method of seeding is by firing rockets and shells loaded with silver iodide into clouds. In the 2008 Summer Olympics, they used the technique to induce rains in outlying areas and keep Beijing rain-free during opening ceremony.
3. Preventing Tornadoes
Physicist Rongjia Tao proposed building three 1,000-foot high, 165-foot thick walls around the American Midwest to prevent the formation of twisters. Tornadoes form in this U.S. region through the interaction of hot air from the south and cold air from the north.
The walls would slow the flow of air and reduce the threat, similar to the natural east-west “wall” of Mountain chains in China. Scientists argued the walls wouldn’t work since twisters can still form even with small differences in temperature of the mixing air; the walls may also pose more problems.
4. Handling Hurricane
A recent theory suggests pouring non-toxic oil slicks into ocean surface could prevent the formation of Ocean Spray that evolves into a hurricane. Others have proposed Offshore wind forms that could reduce the wind speeds of hurricanes.
An other approaches for Supersonic Jets to fly around the Hurricane’s eye to create a sonic boom that would disperse the storm. In the early 2000s, thousands of kilos of a water-absorbing polymer were dumped into hurricanes to soak up the storm. It failed.
5. The Problem With Hurricanes
Nearly all the schemes are nonsense,” says Huge Willoughby, PhD, Research Professor in Earth & Environment at the University of Miami. Draining a hurricane’s energy borders on the impossible because they are one of the most powerful and unpredictable forces of nature.
The heat energy they release is equivalent to a 10-megaton nuclear bomb exploding every 20 minutes. Nipping it before it forms is futile since no one can predict to which of the many storm disturbance in the ocean will actually become a hurricane.
6. Military Interest
The HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) is a little-known, “secretive” U.S. military defence program. It conducts experiments using electromagnetic energy beams in order to “temporarily exciter limited area of the ionosphere.”
Though unproven, analyst say it has been used by the military to create tsunamis and storms to destroy enemy locations. The U.N. banned weather Warfare in October 1978.