Scientists 'One Step Closer' To Controlling The Weather
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Scientists may have made progress in their ability to control the weather, as new research has revealed how clouds could be encouraged to produce rain.
As someone currently watching the rain fall outside, I have to say that I'd probably rather scientists make some headway in their abilities to make clouds go away and give Britain a bit of sun, but — of course — every scientific endeavour is important in its own right.
This particular weather-controlling research comes from Giles Harrison, a meteorologist at the University of Reading, who together with colleagues has been investigating the electric charge of drops in non-thunderstorm clouds.
The researchers focused their attention on the electric charge that exists in the air and crackles in thunderclouds, showing that the greater the variation in charges, the stronger the attraction between droplets.
Harrison explained that this link, depicted in calculations led by Maarten Ambaum and published in Proceedings of the Royal Society, 'advances our understanding of how charge influences drop growth and brings a new aspect to answering the age-old question: why does it rain?'.
The team found that charges between droplets will 'migrate' from one to the other, which 'leads to an attractive force which can dominate if the drops are close to each other'.
It could be possible to encourage the formation of raindrops by supercharging clouds with electricity, with the researchers noting that while applying electric fields to clouds would only make rain droplets 5% more likely to stick together, the effect could still be enough to stimulate or suppress rain, Futurism reports.
Harrison and his colleagues have been funded by the United Arab Emirates to research rain enhancement since at least 2017, because the country is an extremely dry place.
Last year, the team flew drones equipped with ionisers into clouds and experimented with releasing positive and negative charges into the air near Dubai to see if they could encourage rain to fall from the sky.
A website for the rain enhancement program explains that the process could 'offer a viable, cost-effective supplement to existing water supplies in arid and semi-arid regions' and 'sufficient potential for regional governments to develop a new tool in their quest to ensure water security'.
The site adds that the UAE has created the program to oversee a grant of up to $1.5 million to encourage scientists and researchers to find innovative ideas for rain enhancement science and technology.
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