The world’s largest rain farm will generate a Mongolia-sized cloud to quench China’s thirst
To secure fresh water for a parched population, China’s state-run Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation is launching the world’s largest rain-making project.
Once finished, the weather modification system will produce 2,641,720,523,581 gallons of water per year. That’s a lotta agua, but still only about 7% of China’s total water consumption — a relative drop in a big, thirsty bucket.
What do you need to make a rain farm?
Lots of cloud seeds. Thousands of space-age chambers will plant cloud seeds — aka silver iodide — in the Tibetan sky, which will sprout into fluffy, water-filled clouds thanks to the moist air rising up from South Asian monsoons.
These clouds will then empty into China’s de facto water tower, the Tibetan Plateau — currently one of the driest, most drought-stricken places on earth.
Cloud seeding, invented by a GE scientist in 1946, has been used for small-fry applications like ensuring ‘gram-worthy wedding day weather — but, due to financial and technological hurdles, it’s never been done on this large a scale.
So, how did China pull it off? Well…
Actually, it IS rocket science. A Chinese team of military rocket-engineers used space defense technology to create cloud-seeding chambers that can operate at high elevations for years without maintenance — for only $8k a pop.
The tech is a dramatic improvement over existing plane-based cloud-seeding technology, which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover a smaller area.
There’s rain(making) in the forecast
3.6B people lack consistent access to water today, and as fresh water grows increasingly scarce, projects like China’s cloud-seeding operation will become more and more common.
Today, China is the biggest weather-meddler (outspending the US by 10x). But India, China’s neighbor across the TP, also invests millions in cloud-farming to reduce their drought risk, and bring a whole new meaning to the phrase “cloud technology.”