Ads by Muslim Ad Network

Cloud Seeding Potentials

The rise of Muslims to the zenith of civilization was based on lslam’s emphasis on learning, science and seeking knowledge.

“Are those who have knowledge and those who have no knowledge alike? Only the men of understanding are mindful.” (Qur’an 39:9).

In light of these teachings of Islamic Shari’ah of praising knowledge and admiring scientific minds, Muslim countries have managed to enter a new field of climatological technology.

Cloud seeding, the practice of injection of salt crystals to clouds to force them to shed rain is becoming an important artery in the economic growth especially in countries that are agriculturally potential.

Although it is an expensive technology to operate, countries such as  Burkina Faso that have embraced it are now reaping the fruits. The technology which is particularly important in countries where agriculture is a major commercial activity provides additional water to crops during periods when little or no rainfall would otherwise occur.

Ads by Muslim Ad Network

Its effectiveness is dependent of other factors that would effectively drop rainfall. One requires sophisticated equipment such as cloud-seeding aeroplanes, measurement and monitoring planes, and communication planes for experimental and monitoring purposes; aircraft maintenance and hanger facilities; meteorological radar and air sounding equipment; a computer system and data analysis software; a rain gauge network and automatic weather stations; and suitable cloud formations.

Also, optionally required are structures for increased rainfall storage to make optimal use of the additional rainfall generated through this technology.

Climatologists say the slow implementation of this technology is a result of lack of expertise. To train a cloud seeding expert, the cost is high and may take a longer period of time. They also blame cultural hindrances for this slow implementation. “Many believe that rain will fall anyway,” Jeff Wangote, a meteorological expert told

Burkina Faso, whose earnings from agriculture have shot up by 5% after embracing cloud seeding project over a decade ago, has also ensured plenty of water in the reservoirs to continue with cultivation during the dry months.

According to Wangote, Cloud seeding works on the principle that all air contains moisture and generally the warmer the air temperature the greater the capacity of the air to hold water and not release it as rain. Silver Iodide acts as giant condensation nuclei, gathering moisture around them and pulling it out of the cloud and to the ground.

The ground only receives rain 20 minutes after each seeding event. And how heavily it rains, how heavy a downpour we experience, depends not just on the size of the cloud but crucially also on air pressure.

Another type of cloud seeding is ground-based seeding. Scientists say this method is an excellent option for the treatment of low-level clouds over complex terrain.

The Asian nations that have been synonymous with drought have effectively used cloud seeding for the past decades. In the UAE for instance, the government, together with the National Center of the Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in the USA and the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, started a program to introduce cloud seeding technology.

And thus began what is called rainfall enhancement via hygroscopic seeding. So far, in terms of seeding events, as they are called, 2000s have been one of the busiest periods. The salt crystals injected into clouds are chemicals comprising potassium chloride and sodium chloride.

Cloud seeding has been going on for nearly a century. In 1915, Charles Hatfield caused a massive flood that destroyed much of downtown San Diego with its cloudbursts of epic proportions.

In August 2008 when the Olympics were held in Beijing, the Chinese government used 37,000 people to seed clouds aiming for dry Games. Hundreds of teams used anti-aircraft guns to shoot shells of silver iodide into approaching cloud masses.

Plus, the Beijing Weather Modification Office used more than 30 aircraft, 4,000 rocket launchers and at least 7,000 artillery pieces to make the rains fall before reaching the new National Stadium where the games were held.

Water poverty has affected more than 20% of the world population. Africa leads in the water scarcity menace followed by South and East Asia, as well as Latin America. Scientists say cloud seeding could be a solution to these many problems.

Cloud seeding is a highly controversial method used to modify local climates. Russia and China are two superpowers that believe various methods of cloud seeding are effective in deflecting storms and preventing rain clouds from precipitating on events requiring dry weather.

Silver iodide, Dry Ice and various salts are used as artificial particles acting as water droplet nuclei. Dropping these particles can trigger precipitation, but any form of climate modification can be unpredictable, and in some cases, dangerous.

Types of Cloud Seeding

Cloud Seeding Potentials

Aerial cloud seeding has proved to be the most effective way to accurately target a particular cloud because it allows for close proximity to the potential cloud candidates.

There are two major types of cloud seeding. Aerial cloud seeding is the process of delivering a seeding agent by aircraft – either at the cloud base or cloud top. Top seeding allows for direct injection of the seeding agent into the super-cooled cloud top. Base seeding is the release of the seeding agent in the updraft of a cloud base.

According to Wangote, aerial cloud seeding has proved to be the most effective way to accurately target a particular cloud because it allows for close proximity to the potential cloud candidates.

There are four types of aircrafts that can be used for the aerial cloud seeding. Beechcraft King Air, Bombardier, Hawker and Piper Cessna.

There are two types of ground-based generators:

Remote Controlled Ground-Based Generators and Manual Ground-Based Generators. These solution-burning ice nuclei generators are most often used to seed Orographic Clouds in areas of rugged topography.


This article is from Science’s archive, originally published on an earlier date.