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Drones are said to bring rain to drought-stricken China

Not only large parts of Europe will suffer from a prolonged drought this summer. The same goes for regions in China. There, the heat sometimes has a doubly negative effect. On the one hand, this means that more air conditioning systems are turned on, increasing electricity consumption. At the same time, the reservoirs are now so empty that electricity production has to be limited. The economy suffers. For example, in the Sichuan region, some factories had to close, while Tesla temporarily switched off the company’s charging stations for electric cars. The authorities in China, therefore, do not want to continue to rely on the whims of the weather gods. Instead, the rain should now be enforced using technical solutions. The state meteorological institute in the region has sent out two drones to provide the much-anticipated rain over an area of ​​6,000 square kilometers.

The technology was also used at the 2008 Olympics

The process used has been known for some time. The drones search for clouds with a high percentage of humidity. In this case, silver iodide is usually used. The material promotes ice formation. The liquid then collects around the ice particles until the individual droplets are heavier than air — and fall to the ground as rain. In short, this method works quite reliably. Until now, however, it is mainly used in China to prevent unwanted rainfall by making the clouds rain early. For example, good weather was ensured at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games. Now the trick is used to create rain in specific places. However, such an intervention in the natural water cycle is not entirely harmless. Of course, this does not increase the total amount of rain.

Conflicts over water may increase

You can only determine where the rain falls. But that also means that this precipitation is missing elsewhere. One may wonder whether humans can really understand these complex interactions well enough to rule out unwanted effects. In theory, the technology could even amplify interstate conflicts over water resources. Until now, such disputes have arisen mainly in the case of transboundary rivers. So there is even a threat of armed conflict between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan. If a country now came up with the idea of ​​always raining clouds specifically for its own national border, this would probably not be received with much enthusiasm in neighboring countries either. Most states have therefore so far refrained from such interventions. But the drier it gets in some countries, the greater the temptation will be.

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