China’s power over the weather is set to grow exponentially in the next few years as its government begins bankrolling a weather control project to the tune of 1.15 billion yuan (almost $168 million). The initiative is reportedly an effort to combat drought in the country’s northwestern provinces.
The budget, the biggest allotted to a Chinese weather modification program yet, has already been approved by the National Development and Reform Commission.
According to South China Morning Post, a study conducted by the China Meteorological Administration has revealed that the amount is very necessary to increase rainfall and snow in a 960,000 square kilometer area (10% of the entire country’s territory).
As per the CMA’s recommendations, the massive budget for the three-year project will soon be released. With the money, the agency plans to purchase four additional new planes, upgrade its eight existing ones, develop 897 rocket launch devices and configure 1,856 devices already in place to digital control systems.
Traditionally, artificial rain is made by cloud seeding, wherein planes or rockets are used to plant dry ice in the target clouds.
In recent years, weather modification in the country has increased significantly, with aims of improving weather for major public events, inducing rain to cool down humid air during summer, and lately, to “clean up” the air in smog-filled cities.
The necessity has pushed the government to pursue a “development plan” for weather modification up to 2020.
From 2006 to 2016, the Chinese government’s artificial rainfall enhancement efforts had caused an increased precipitation of 55 billion cubic meters, according to He Shengcun, an official at the Qinghai provincial government’s “weather influencing” office. The amount is so massive it compares to 150% of the water in the Three Gorges reservoir, the world’s largest hydroelectric power station.