A team of Japanese meteorological researchers has succeeded in testing a method of producing artificial rain, and it has worked for two consecutive years now. The method consists mainly of spraying liquid carbonic acid at extremely low temperatures to induce more precipitation from rain clouds.
The team, made up mostly of researchers from Kyushu University and Fukuoka University, will present the data at a meeting of the Meteorological Society of Japan in Tokyo on May 15. The experiments were purely for inducing artificial rainfall in the months of February 2012 and March 2013 around the Izu Islands. On March 14 this year, planes were used to spray carbonic acid onto the clouds around 1,400 meters thick north of Miyake Island and northeast of Mikura Island, south of Tokyo. The liquid was applied for 10 minutes each. The results were immediate – clouds along the 50-km-long, 2-km-wide flight path precipitated into rain, measured at about 120,000 tons of precipitation. Two hours later, clouds adjacent to the flight path – an area around 50 kilometers in diameter – also precipitated into rain. An estimated 2 million tons of rain fell during experiment period. The planes sprayed around 5 grams per second of liquid carbonic acid at a temperature of 90 degrees below zero. One gram is believed to have created some 10 trillion ice crystals, which turned into snow particles and caused rain.
This specific method of cloud seeding was discovered by Norihiko Fukuda, professor emeritus at the University of Utah who died in 2010. He conducted his first successful experiment near the island of Ikinoshima in Nagasaki Prefecture, in 1999. An immediate question would be, would this method be able to “create” rain in times of drought? The answer is no, as explained by Taichi Maki, an emeritus professor at Kyushu University. “Artificial rain cannot be created after drought comes following sunny days. More-than-usual rain can be produced during the rainy season and stored in dams if scarce rainfall is forecast for summertime,” Maki said. The method can be used to increase supply of rainwater stored in dams to prepare for a possible forecasted drought. If Japan were to use this method for practical application, the family of Fukuda and the University of Utah who own the patents for the method, need to be consulted and agree to the use of the process.
[via Jiji Press]
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