Welcome on Board

This blog is for students, managers and those lay people who are interested to contribute to, comment on or simply share their workplace problems and are keen to learn about issues relating to public finance, corporate finance and macro-economic management affecting their lives.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Money can buy anything, even the weather of your choice…

Money can buy anything, even the weather of your choice. If you are fed up with hot and dry weather of the deserts, you can put science to your service and bring a nice change through artificially induced rain showers and even the hailstorms like the Chinese created snowfall sometimes back. It is like controlling the Mother Nature.  Time has reported that as part of a secret program to control the weather in the Middle East, scientists working for the United Arab Emirates government artificially created rain where rain is generally nowhere to be found. The $11 million project, which began in July, put steel lampshade-looking ionizers in the desert to produce charged particles. The negatively charged ions rose with the hot air, attracting dust. Moisture then condensed around the dust and eventually produced a rain cloud. A bunch of rain clouds. On the 52 days it rained in the region throughout July and August, defeating the weather forecasters who did not predict rain once.

While fascinating, this is not the first time scientists have attempted to mess with Mother Nature. The idea that countries in the Middle East could actually create rain in this water-poor region could go a long way to solving the area's problems with drought and is considered to be cheaper than desalination. But how controllable the weather can be is still in doubt, and the consequences of meddling with nature at this level are yet to be seen.

China did this a year ago. A Nov. 1, 2009 snowfall in Beijing — the city's earliest since 1987 — was due to a campaign of "cloud-seeding" to encourage precipitation. If true, it's the wettest success yet in a long-standing effort to bring moisture artificially to the parched northern regions of China. The same magazine in a separate story explains the phenomenon; colder air encourages precipitation, so when the temperature drops at high altitude, water naturally condenses out of the air. Clouds are formed when this moisture, suspended in tiny droplets or crystals, meets a condensation nuclei — small particles of dust or ice that are blown about the upper atmosphere. Without these small particles, clouds can't form. The method of cloud-seeding used by the Chinese involves dosing the atmosphere with silver iodide, a chemical solution either dropped from planes or shot up from the ground. 

The silver iodide particles supercharge cloud formation, as they act as excellent condensation nuclei. Once clouds form, they also start a positive feedback effect. As droplets freeze and are added to the cloud, they release their heat, creating an updraft which draws additional moisture from the ground into the atmosphere. That's the theory, anyway. The effectiveness of cloud-seeding is still disputed, because it's difficult to say with any certainty that cloud-seeding is responsible for a storm rather than Mother Nature. But if you choose to believe in cloud-seeding, the Chinese scientists may have even overdone it. The snowstorm lasted for 11 hours, disrupting flights in and out of Beijing and hampering shipping off the Chinese coast. Still, expect few complaints from the generally dry region; it's the most accumulation the city's seen in a decade, and further proof the Chinese may be becoming the world's best at managing weather. In a 2008 experiment, scientists seeded clouds in advance of the Beijing Olympics, successfully ensuring clear skies for the opening ceremony.

1 comment: