Posted by staff Reporter
Story and picture courtesy of 9news.com.au
China is aiming to solve its water shortage by building a hi-tech rain-making network the size of Queensland.
Scientists plan to use military-grade technology to build a vast network of fuel-burning chambers high up on the Tibetan mountains, reports the South China Morning Post.
If successful, the ambitious project would increase rainfall in the region by as much as 10billion cubic metres a year -or about 7percent of China’s water consumption – researchers said.
But achieving that target involves building tens of thousands of chambers 5000m up the Tibetan plateau across an area of 1.6mllion square kilometres – about the size of Queensland.
By burning solid fuel in the chambers, silver iodide which has a crystal-like formation is produced.
The other key component is wind containing water vapour from the Indian monsoon.
When it reaches the Tibetan plateau, it would then sweep the silver iodide particles into the clouds to stimulate snow and rain.
A scientist from the project told the South China Morning Post trials involving 500 burners had so far produced “very promising results”.
“Sometimes snow would start falling almost immediately after we ignited the chamber. It was like standing on the stage of a magic show,” he said.
Giant defence and space contractor China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation is behind the project.
Scientists from the state-owned company drew on rocket propulsion systems in the chamber design, enabling them to burn the solid fuel in the oxygen-scarce mountain locations.
The project is another form of cloud seeding – the artificial increase of moisture in clouds to stimulate rainfall.
While similar projects are underway in countries such as the US and Dubai using planes and drones, nothing rivals the scale of China’s grandiose Tibetan plan.
But the superpower’s thirst for more rain brings with it the risk of regional tensions.
The massive glaciers and extensive subterranean of the Tibetan plateau make it one of Asia’s biggest water reserves, feeding rivers such as the Yangtze, Mekong and Yellow.
As well as China, they and other river systems flow through India, Laos, Myanmar and Nepal, supplying millions of people.