December 13, 2008
What is the future for weather modification? Can scientists cause it to rain more or less on one area than would normally occur? Can devastating crop ruining, hailstorms be turned aside? Some weather scientists say weather modification is feasible, others are inclined to be doubtful.
Those who take a restrained point of view, such as the U. S. Weather Bureau. say:
- There must be suitable moisture bearing clouds available for cloud seeding. Obviously then cloud seeding is not a cure for drought.
- It has been possible to say definitely that cloud seeding has increased precipitation only under very favorable circumstances, such as where moist air currents are forced to rise and produce persistent clouds. These circumstances usually occur over mountain ranges in the West. Under these favorable circumstances an increase in precipitation is only 10 to 15%.
- More research is necessary to learn how clouds release their moisture naturally before the effectiveness of artificial methods can be definitely known. One point of view holds that conditions under which it appears possible that cloud seeding might cause an increase in precipitation are almost exactly the same as those required for natural release.
On the other hand, Dr. Irving P. Krick, whose Water Resources Development Corp. conducted cloud seeding work for almost a decade, says:
- Unlike other natural resources such as iron ore, the world supplies of water cannot be depleted. Our water supply is continuously moving through the hydrological cycle, from the atmosphere to earth as precipitation and by evaporation back to the atmosphere. It is an astounding fact that we are using the same water that prehistoric man used. The problem is to adjust and modify the water supply through precipitation to best fit our needs.
- It is true that cloud seeding cannot produce rain but it can assist the natural processes and thereby obtain greater yields in desired areas.
- In the wheatlands of eastern Washington, live successive years of cloud seeding obtained from 6 to 14 more inches of rainfall than adjacent areas. On a cost basis spent on weather modification added $40 in income to farmers through increased yields.
- Hail cannot be eliminated but it is possible through cloud seeding to suppress it and minimize potential damage. Hail suppression programs will increase precipitation and at the same time suppress lightning, thus saving timberlands from fire.
Meanwhile it is interesting to note that cherry growers in Yakima, Wash, recently went on record favoring a bill which would provide regulation of weather modification. They are worried that the attempts to increase rain on adjacent dry land wheat farms will ruin their cherry crops.
The interesting part of this article is the original publication date – April 1957. Fifty years later the same topic continues to be discussed – can man control the weather. Only the future will tell us for sure.