What is cloud seeding?

September 25, 2008

Erica's Answer:

Cloud seeding is a procedure in which small particles, such as dust or dry ice, are forced into the air in an attempt to get clouds to form. The hope is that those clouds will produce precipitation. Why did the Chinese want it to rain before the Olympics, you might ask? The answer is simple—they were hoping the precipitation would pull atmospheric pollutants to the ground, which in turn would make the air cleaner and easier to breathe.

When cloud seeding procedures are successful in getting clouds to form, then yes, seeding works. However, scientists are discovering that cloud seeding is a difficult process, and it's hard to get precipitation out of the cloud seeding techniques that currently exist. There has been hope in the past that cloud seeding could help alleviate drought conditions in areas that desperately need water, but today's seeding techniques are too expensive, with too low a success rate, for this to be an effective method for combating drought conditions.

- Erica

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