China Seeds Clouds As Yangtze River Dries Up
Chinese planes are firing rods into the sky to bring more rainfall to its crucial Yangtze River, which has dried up in parts, as swaths of the nation fall into drought and grapple with the worst and longest heat wave on record, Wayne Chang, Simone McCarthy and Shawn Deng reported for CNN.
Photo Insert: Several regions on the Yangtze have launched weather modification programs, but with cloud cover too thin, operations in some drought-ravaged parts of the river's basin have remained on standby.
Several regions on the Yangtze have launched weather modification programs, but with cloud cover too thin, operations in some drought-ravaged parts of the river's basin have remained on standby.
The Ministry of Water Resources said in a notice on Wednesday that drought throughout the Yangtze river basin was "adversely affecting drinking water security of rural people and livestock, and the growth of crops."
As of Monday, China's heat wave had lasted 64 days, making it the longest in more than six decades, since full records began in 1961, the National Climate Center said in a statement. It also said it was the "strongest" on record and warned that it could worsen in the coming days.
"The heat wave this time is prolonged, wide in scope, and strong in extremity," the statement read. "Taken all signs together, the heat wave in China will continue and its intensity will increase."
On Wednesday, central China's Hubei province became the latest to announce it would seed clouds, using silver iodide rods to induce rainfall. The silver iodide rods -- which are typically the size of cigarettes -- are shot into existing clouds to help form ice crystals.
The crystals then help the cloud produce more rain, making its moisture content heavier and more likely to be released.
Cloud seeding has been in practice since the 1940s and China has the biggest program in the world. It used seeding ahead of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 to ensure dry weather for the event, and the technique can also be used to induce snowfall or to soften hail.
At least 4.2 million people in Hubei have been affected by a severe drought since June, Hubei's Provincial Emergency Management Department said Tuesday. More than 150,000 people there have difficulties accessing drinking water, and nearly 400,000 hectares of crops have been damaged because of high temperatures and drought.