LIKE ANY SELF-RESPECTING SUPERPOWER, China has a propensity to address any problems with heavy arms fire. So, in keeping with this fine tradition, the country has lined up thousands of peasants to blow away any revisionist rainclouds planning to rain on the Olympic games.
Beijing has come up with an elaborate scheme involving aircraft, artillery and supercomputers to ensure that this summer’s Olympics, slap bang in the middle of North East Asia’s rainy season, stay dry.
As previously reported in the Inquirer, the Beijing Meteorological Bureau (BMB) last year bought itself an IBM p575 supercomputer to provide precise hourly weather forecasts for an area ranging 44,000 square kilometres. If the computer predicts rain anywhere near Beijing’s precious Olympic stadium, China’s city weather engineers will spring into action.
The first step of the China Meteorological Administration plan involves sending two planes, aided by a battery of artillery and rocket launch sites, to blast approaching rain clouds with silver iodide and dry ice. This is supposed to cause the rain clouds to empty their loads well before they reach the Olympic stadium. If the clouds happened to be too close to the stadium to begin with, the planes would seed them with liquid nitrogen, shrinking the rain droplets inside them, and making rain unlikely to fall until the cloud has floated on past the stadium.
The Chinese have been in the weather changing game since 1958. They first began experimenting with clouds to irrigate the arid Chinese North and Gobi desert and today have what is thought to be the world’s biggest weather engineering programme in the world. According to Technology Review, China's national weather engineering programme employs 500 'weather modification professionals' in charge of over 30 aircraft and their crews, as well as 37,000 part-time, mostly peasant, workers who are constantly on call to annihilate clouds with their 7,113 anti-aircraft guns and 4,991 rocket launchers.
But the programme isn’t guaranteed to ensure clear skies nor a dry Olympics. Tests show that experiments with heavy rain clouds have not been particularly successful in the past, and only clouds with light rain loads respond to seeding in a satisfactory manner. µ
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