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What is Cloud Seeding ? | How Artificial Rain Works ? | UPSC IAS IPS IFS

In this article, we will look about Cloud Seeding. In past few years, many countries has turned towards Cloud Seeding method to solve their water scarcity problems across the arid and semi-arid regions. This method not only solves the drought like situations in a country but also helps in preventing hailstorms in some of the areas of United States and Canada region. With recent technological advancement, Cloud Seeding can truly improve the quality of life of many people.

Why do we need Cloud Seeding

Before understanding more about cloud seeding, it is first important to understand why do we need Cloud Seeding process ? There are many places in this world which receives little to no rain and hence creates a challenging environment to survive. The best example is the number of desert region present across the globe where natural rain is below 25cm of precipitation in a year. Not only this but sometimes due to changing climatic conditions many of the heavy rainfall regions gets less rain in a year and hence create drought like situation.

To deal with all this problem, Cloud Seeding works as an effective method which countries has been slowly started using from past few years. One of the recent country which started using this method to create artificial rain is UAE. Some of the main countries which have been using this method are USA, China, Canada, Australia and few of EU Countries.

What is Cloud Seeding ? | How Artificial Rain Works ? | UPSC IAS IPS IFS

What is Cloud Seeding

Also Read: Anatomy of the Sun – Internal Structure, Composition and Atmosphere

Cloud Seeding is a method or technique to increase the chances of rain or snow in a particular region by artificial means. This technique involves releasing of substances into the atmosphere to alter the weather condition of a specific area or region with the aim to increase the precipitation in that region.

Types of Cloud Seeding

There are broadly three types of Cloud Seeding methods currently in use:-

  • Static Cloud Seeding
  • Dynamic Cloud Seeding
  • Hygroscopic Cloud Seeding

1. Static Cloud Seeding

This method uses Silver Iodide to increase the precipitation probability. Silver Iodide has crystalline structure similar to Ice crystals which helps in condensing the molecules around its structure thus making it heavy resulting into rain.

2. Dynamic Cloud Seeding

This method involves altering the dynamics of Cloud. The goal in this method is to increase the number of Ice crystals per liter as compared to Static Cloud Seeding. In this method, focus is to mainly enhance the vertical air currents in Cloud and thereby vertically process more water through the clouds and hence increase in precipitation. Here the use of Silver Iodide is much more as compared to Static Cloud Seeding method.

3. Hygroscopic Cloud Seeding

In this method of Cloud Seeding, rain enhancement is done by accelerating the process of coalescence using hygroscopic salt nuclei generated by pyrotechnic flares or a fine spray of a highly concentrated salt solution. More on Hygroscopic Cloud Seeding.

Advantages

Some of the major advantages of Cloud Seeding method are:-

  • To increase the rain in drought affected regions.
  • To increase visibility of a fog covered region.
  • To douse forest fires.
  • To reduce the size of hailstorms.
  • It has both direct and indirect positive effect in a country’s economy.
  • It increases agricultural yields.

Disadvantages

Although there are number of advantages of cloud seeding method but sometimes this method does not always go as planned and might impact the surrounding region negatively. Some of its major disadvantages are:-

  • Overusing might lead to severe temperature drop and snowstorm
  • Rain or snow in an area due to Seeding method adversely impact the surrounding region by causing severe dryness or drought situation.
  • It might cause unstable weather conditions.
  • Loss of Aquatic life due to use of toxic substance like Silver Iodide.

Way Ahead

Scientists, Researchers and professionals across the world are looking to find a sustainable method to produce artificial rain and hence exploring other options like Stratospheric Aerosal Injection method to further fine grain this process. Scientists also found an alternative of Silver Iodide which is harmful for aquatic life. They have suggested to use Calcium Chloride as an effective alternative. Another research is about the use of negatively charged ions instead of Ice like Crystals. All these research are still going on and we might see some success in near future.

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