In the face of rising temperatures, China is experimenting with a new low-cost weather modification system in a bid to increase rainfall on the Tibetan plateau. The country hopes to increase rainfall in the region by up to 10 billion cubic metres a year — about 7 per cent of China’s total water consumption — by using the technology, reports South China Morning Post.
The Tibetan plateau, Asia’s largest freshwater reserve, feeds the continents biggest rivers including the Yellow River, Yangtze, Mekong, Salween and the Brahmaputra. Often called Asia’s ‘water tower’, the rivers serve as a lifeline for almost half the world’s population, flowing through India, Nepal, Laos and Myanmar and other countries.
What is this technology?
China intends on building a network of fuel-burning chambers in select locations across the plateau. The chambers will burn solid fuel to produce silver iodide, a cloud seeding agent. This will induce rain and snow. The chambers will be built on steep mountain ridges facing the direction of the wind. When the wind hits the chambers, it produces an upward draft and sends particles into the atmosphere to bring rain — a single chamber can reportedly form a strip of thick clouds stretching across over 5 kilometres.
The technology has been used by other countries, such as the US, China is attempting to implement it in a large-scale.
There are already 500 burners reportedly deployed on the plateau for experimentation. Researchers are looking at ways to ensure the burners require minimum maintenance once operational, especially since they will be operated in a remote environment.
Each burner costs $8,000 (about 50,000 Yuan) to build and install — cheaper as they are mass produced.
(With inputs from South China Morning Post)