Playing god with gases


Few of us can forecast or second-guess the activities of Mother Nature, yet meteorologists in China have declared some degree of success with experiments using liquid nitrogen to ensure that the opening of the Olympic Games in August is rain-free.

While much has been made of China’s attempts to reduce pollution ahead of the Olympics, a team of scientist have also been working away with the remit of reducing rainfall and guaranteeing that the event’s opening goes as smoothly as possible.

In efforts to curb rainfall, the scientists have been seeding clouds with liquid nitrogen or silver iodide, depending on temperatures. Clouds below freezing were sprayed with a liquid nitrogen-based coolant that breaks droplets down into smaller sizes, while those above freezing temperatures received silver iodide to produce a cloud-suppressing downdraft by speeding the process of droplet coalescence.

Beijing Meteorological Bureau Deputy Chief Wang Jian Jie announced at a recent news conference, that the group’s groundbreaking scientific exploits were beginning to pay dividends.
“Since 2006, we’ve been doing some experiments using seeding to reduce rain precipitation. We’ve been comparing results and they have improved,” he said.

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