Letters Are gene-edited babies safe from HIV mutations? China needs more water. So it's building a rain-making network three times the size of Spain The idea for Sky River involves a network of fuel-burning chambers on the Tibetan mountains, which would send silver iodide into the air to accelerate the formation of rain. Chinese engineers plan 1,km tunnel to make Xinjiang desert bloom Three rivers — the Yellow, Yangtze and Mekong — have their origins on the Tibetan Plateau.
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2. North China's winters are cold and dry; summers are hot and humid.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Scientists cast pall on scheme to boost Yellow River rain. Most Popular Viewed 1.
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China's largest cloud seeding assault aims to stop rain on the national parade
You may also like. Why hairy crab is all the craze in China Oct 18th , 4: Choosing art for the home is all about mixing things up 9 Dec - Balance Trump, cosy up to China, Koreas: But now, after several improvements to the design, the chambers should be able to operate in a near-vacuum for months, or even years, without requiring maintenance. China diverts 10 billion cubic metres of water to arid north. They also burn fuel as cleanly and efficiently as rocket engines, releasing only vapours and carbon dioxide, which makes them suitable for use even in environmentally protected areas.
Communications and other electronic equipment is powered by solar energy and the chambers can be operated by a smart phone app thousands of kilometres away for through the satellite forecasting system. The chambers have one clear advantage over other cloud-seeding methods such as using planes, cannons and drones to blast silver iodide into the atmosphere. Costs are likely to drop further due to mass production. One downside of the burning chambers, however, is that they will not work in the absence of wind or when the wind is blowing the wrong direction.
This month, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation signed an agreement with Tsinghua University and Qinghai province to set up a large-scale weather modification system on the Tibetan plateau. The project aims to intercept the water vapour carried by the Indian monsoon over the Tibetan plateau and redistribute it in the northern regions to increase the water supply there by five to 10 billion cubic metres a year.
Chinese engineers plan 1,km tunnel to make Xinjiang desert bloom. Climate simulations show that the Tibetan plateau is likely to experience a severe drought over the coming decades as natural rainfall fails to replenish the water lost as a result of rising temperatures. The exact scale and launch date for the programme has not been fixed as it is pending final approval from the central government, he said.
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Debate is also ongoing within the project team over the best approach for the project, he added. While some favour the use of the chambers, others prefer cloud-seeding planes as they have a smaller environmental footprint. Spring is coming earlier to the Tibetan plateau and it could affect the lives of millions. In theory, the chambers could affect the weather and even the climate in the region if they are built in large enough numbers.
But they might not work as perfectly in real life, according to the researcher. A weather system can be huge. Beijing might not give the green light for the project either, he added, as intercepting the moisture in the skies over Tibet could have a knock-on effect and reduce rainfall in other Chinese regions. Skip to main content. China needs more water. So it's building a rain-making network three times the size of Spain. Monday, 26 March, , 2: Tuesday, 27 March, , 6: Related topics China science Weather.
More on this story. Science Operation Z machine: Science Storm clouds continue to brew over Sky River rain-making project 13 Dec Letters Are gene-edited babies safe from HIV mutations? Resource-hungry China is in overdrive as it wages water wars by stealth The silver iodide produced by the burning chambers will provide the particles required to form rain. A single chamber can form a strip of thick clouds stretching across more than 5km. China diverts 10 billion cubic metres of water to arid north They also burn fuel as cleanly and efficiently as rocket engines, releasing only vapours and carbon dioxide, which makes them suitable for use even in environmentally protected areas.
In comparison, a cloud-seeding plane costs several million yuan and covers a smaller area.
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