China reportedly used weather modification technology to clear Beijing’s skies for the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) centenary earlier this year.
Making it rain: Scientists from Tsinghua University suggested that the Chinese government conducted a cloud-seeding activity the day before the CCP’s 100th-year celebration in Tiananmen Square on July 1, reported South China Morning Post.
- Cloud seeding is a technique that increases rainfall by dispersing certain substances into the air which make water droplets cluster.
- The research, published in peer-reviewed Chinese journal Environmental Science on Nov. 26, noted that the celebration was expected to face an overcast sky and a significant rise in air pollutants, despite efforts to temporarily stop factory production and other similar activities days beforehand.
- On June 30, China’s weather authorities launched rockets carrying silver iodine into the sky during their two-hour cloud-seeding operation in Beijing and some surrounding areas.
- The resulting artificial rain turned the air quality from “moderate” to “good” under World Health Organization (WHO) standards by decreasing the level of the air pollutant PM2.5 by over 66%.
- It also rained following the end of the two-hour event that was attended by tens of thousands of people.
Artificial weather: Since the launch of its weather modification program last year, China has built advanced weather modification networks — considered to be some of the largest in the world — in western Chinese regions, including Tibet and Xinjiang.
- According to Reuters, the government said the program is focusing on “revitalizing rural regions, restoring ecosystems and minimizing losses from natural disasters.”
- From 2012-2017, China invested a total of 8.8 billion yuan ($1.38 billion) on their weather modification program, according to state-media Xinhua.
- The country has conducted cloud-seeding activities in the past to address droughts and free the air of pollution before significant international events, such as the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics.
- China is working toward expanding its artificial rain and snow program and reaching an “advanced” weather modification level by 2035.
- Addressing concerns that such activities may affect weather patterns in other regions, China Meteorological Administration’s former deputy director Xu Xiaofeng said that the government is “aware of the risks as well as the limitations of the weather modification technology.”
- In a paper published in the Chinese journal Advances in Meteorological Science and Technology, Xu wrote: “Weather modification is not only a scientific problem but also a social engineering project closely related to [a country’s] interests, environment and responsibilities. To deal with these problems, we need to have new laws, regulations or international treaties.”
Weather modification techniques are similarly being practiced in other parts of the world. In the U.S., several states have also used cloud seeding to induce rainfall to mitigate the effects caused by severe levels of drought.