What is Artificial Rain and How it is effective in Controlling pollution ?

 In the era of Artificial Intelligence, artificial rain is not a new term. In situations like floods, drought, heatwaves, storms, forest fires etc., artificial rainfall is discussed as an option to control the situation.

At present, this is being discussed in view of the increasing pollution in Delhi and the serious situation due to it.

The level of pollution in Delhi has remained 'severe' for the last several days. Serious here means that the air quality index of Delhi remains between 401 and 500.

According to experts, when AQI is between zero and 50 it is called 'good'. A score between 51 and 100 is considered 'satisfactory', a score between 101 and 200 is considered 'moderate', a score between 201 and 300 is 'poor', a score between 301 and 400 is 'very poor' and a score between 401 and 500 is 'severe'.

To deal with the severe pollution level and control it, the Delhi government has made several announcements one after the other.

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai has told what steps the government is going to take to deal with pollution. Among all the measures suggested by the government, the suggestion of providing artificial rain through cloud seeding is much discussed.

In such a situation, questions are being raised what is artificial rain? How does this happen and how effective is it in dealing with pollution?

To answer all these questions, we spoke to SN Tripathi, a civil engineering professor at IIT Kanpur. The information given below is based on this conversation.

What is Artificial Rain?

What is Artifical Rain and How it is effective in Controlling polution ?

When naturally formed clouds in the atmosphere themselves cause rain, it is called natural rain.

But many times it happens that clouds are formed but due to some incomplete processes inside them, they are not able to cause rain. Or even if it rains, it remains only in the clouds and does not reach the earth.

So, under a special technique, when rain is induced by putting rain seeds in the clouds, then it is called artificial rain. The name of this technique is cloud seeding.

What is cloud seeding technology?

'Cloud Seeding' is made up of two words, cloud and seeding. Cloud means cloud and seeding means sowing seeds. It may sound strange but in simple words, the process of sowing the seeds of rain in the clouds is called cloud seeding. It is worth noting that substances like silver iodide, potassium chloride and sodium chloride are used as seeds. These substances are sprayed in the clouds with the help of aircraft etc. These substances freeze the water droplets present in the cloud. After which the ice pieces stick to other pieces and form snowflakes. These snowflakes fall on the ground.

Cloud seeding has a long history.

American scientist Vincent J. Schaefer invented cloud seeding. Its roots are found in the 1940s, especially during that time in America.

Professor SN Tripathi explains About Cloud  seeding

Professor SN Tripathi explains, “You cannot do seeding where there are no clouds. So first of all you see whether there are clouds or not, if so at what height, what are the characteristics of them and the atmosphere. Then with the help of forecast or measurement, they find out how much water is in the cloud. After this, a special kind of chemical (salt or mixture of salts) is put in suitable places in the clouds. This chemical speeds up the microphysical processes of clouds (i.e. rain particles, snow). After which it falls on the ground in the form of rain.''

There is also a technique of giving an electric shock to the clouds, using which rain can be caused. In this, with the help of drone technology, electric shock is given to the clouds.

UAE created artificial rain in the year 2021 using this technology.

When is the need for artificial rain?

Generally, artificial rain is made to deal with drought and flood situations.

Apart from this, it is also used to reduce severe forest fires, unbearable heat or heat waves, storms and pollution.

Israel regularly produces artificial rain because there is very little natural rain here. Today, the United Arab Emirates also conducts artificial rainfall in research programs and operational programs.

How effective is it in controlling pollution?

Israel regularly produces artificial rain because there is very little natural rain there. Nowadays, the UAE also uses it in research programs and operational programs.

China did cloud seeding with the help of aircraft and ground-based guns during the Beijing Olympics in 2008. After this, they got a lot of help in controlling pollution.

Talking about India, cloud seeding has been done here before but till now it has been done with the help of foreign aircraft, foreign seeding tools and foreign scientists and engineers.

This is the first time that IIT Kanpur has developed its own salt i.e. chemical, the aircraft belongs to IIT Kanpur and we have also prepared the seeding tools ourselves. So if it is used in Delhi, it will be completely indigenous.

And as far as its effectiveness is concerned, it depends on the seeding.

If seeding is done properly then it will prove to be effective in every respect because when it rains in a large area, pollution is automatically controlled.

When was it first used?

At present many countries use it.

In 2017, the United Nations Meteorological Organization estimated that more than 50 countries have tried cloud seeding so far.

These include Australia, Japan, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, China, America and Russia.

Even India has used it.

But like India, China, which is suffering from pollution, uses it the most.

In 2008, China used cloud seeding technology for the first time before the Summer Olympic Games held in Beijing.

Whereas India used it for the first time in the year 1984. Tamil Nadu was then facing severe drought. After this, the Tamil Nadu government took the help of cloud seeding technology between 1984-87, and 1993-94.

In 2003 and 2004, the Karnataka government also experimented with cloud seeding. In the same year, the Maharashtra government also took its help.


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