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  • Context (TH | TOI): Cloud seeding experiment in Solapur of Maharashtra resulted in 18% more rainfall than normal conditions.
  • Solapur falls on the leeward side of the Western Ghats and hence normally gets low rainfall.
  • Cloud seeding is a weather modification technology that artificially stimulates rainfall by spraying chemical substances into the air that serve as cloud condensation nuclei.
  • Cloud condensation nuclei are small particles upon which water vapour condenses to form clouds.
  • The chemical substances used are silver iodides, potassium iodides, dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) or liquid propane.
  • It works only when there are enough pre-existing clouds in the atmosphere.

Cloud Seeding

Cloud Seeding

Different Cloud Seeding Methods

  • Hygroscopic Cloud Seeding: Salts are sprayed through explosives in the lower portions of clouds.
  • Static Cloud Seeding: Chemicals like silver iodide crystals are sprayed into clouds.
  • Dynamic Cloud Seeding: Vertical air currents are boosted to encourage more water to pass through the clouds which translates into more rain.
  • In the Solapur experiment, hygroscopic cloud seeding was used and calcium chloride flare was used for seeding the clouds.

Applications of Cloud Seeding

  • Increases rainfall
  • Regulates weather: Creates favourable microclimates by dispersing fog, suppressing hail, and modifying cyclones.
  • Controls air pollution and water pollution

Limitations of Cloud Seeding

  • Cannot mitigate drought: It can simply partially address the water requirements.
  • Cannot produce rainfall from all clouds.

Challenges in Cloud Seeding

  • Cause abnormal weather conditions: For e.g., when naturally less moisture place receives more rainfall, then it may cause flash floods.
  • Harmful for environment and health: Chemicals used in cloud seeding are toxic.
  • Contribute to global warming: The chemicals used in cloud seeding are a source of GHGs.
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