Cloud seeding update

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Here’s a look at cloud seeding efforts worldwide from the Associated Press via The New York Times. From the article:

Faced with water shortages, growing populations and the threat that climate change could make matters worse, governments around the globe have increasingly turned to cloud seeding in an attempt to wring more rain and snow from the sky. But the efforts are threatened by budget cuts in states struggling to begin an economic recovery and by critics who insist the technique is unproven and might pose a threat to the environment. ”When there is a drought in a particular country, they start looking at alternative sources of freshwater, and cloudy air is one source,” said Duncan Axisa, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., who supports expanding cloud-seeding research.

Government agencies and utilities from California to North Dakota spend an estimated $15 million a year on cloud seeding, and the number of projects has jumped by nearly a third in the last decade. But spending in the United States is far lower than in many other countries. China spends an estimated $100 million a year on cloud-seeding efforts that include using anti-aircraft guns and rocket launchers to blast the sky with silver iodide. ”What’s going on in the U.S. is tiny,” said Arlen Huggins, an associate research scientist at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nev. ”There’s more being done outside the U.S. than here.” Other countries conducting cloud-seeding research include Australia, France, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Venezuela.

In the U.S., utilities that run hydroelectric dams are among the most active cloud seeders. They say it is a cost-effective way to increase limited water supplies by 10 percent or more. Cloud seeding is also used in Texas and the Midwest to make hail smaller, reducing crop damage…

Colorado has doubled its state and local spending on cloud seeding over the last 10 years to about $700,000 a year. In 2005, Wyoming lawmakers committed nearly $9 million to a five-year project to determine whether the technology works. Cloud-seeding supporters say federal research funding would not only validate the system but lead to improvements in techniques. ”We want to chip away at changes in climate change now and do a good job at augmenting our precipitation now,” said Joe Busto, who sits on the North American Interstate Weather Modification Council, a group of regulators from 10 states organized to promote cloud seeding.

More cloud seeding coverage here and here.

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