(Yicai Global) Sept. 26 -- A China-made fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) successfully carried out the first cloud seeding operation at the Barkol grassland in Hami in China’s northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
The UAV technology will henceforth deploy in weather modification operations such as cloud seeding and hail and fog suppression in the country on a more extensive scale, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The radar-controlled drone dispersed silver iodide into clouds to convert ambient moisture into rainfall. Relative to traditional equipment such as cannons and manned aircraft, drones can reach higher altitudes, have a longer range (they can run for more than 10 hours), are suitable for operations in complex weather conditions, and are more efficient, cost effective and safer, said Jin Lusheng, head of Xinjiang’s artificial weather modification bureau.
Artificial rainmaking and snowmaking have proven effective in easing water shortages, improving the natural environment and preventing natural disasters in China. The government has provided some USD1.33 billion (CNY8.8 billion) in subsidies for weather modification operations over the past five years, and increased precipitation in target areas by 233.5 billion cubic meters.
Xinjiang arid climate exposes it to serious water shortage problems, and was thus one of the earliest regions in China to start cloud seeding. It has the largest scale of weather modification operations in the country, with more than 1,000 cloud seeding stations and four rainfall and snowfall induction bases. These facilities cover more than 340,000 square kilometers of land, including some 2.7 million hectares of crops, and are capable of increasing precipitation by roughly one billion tons a year.