Discovery of Cloud Seeding? Have humans learned to control the weather? Theories about Cloud seeding


Discovery of Cloud Seeding
Cloud Seeding

By releasing materials into the atmosphere that act as cloud condensation or ice nuclei and influence the microphysical processes within the cloud, the weather manipulation technique known as cloud seeding seeks to change the amount or kind of precipitation that falls from clouds.

For example, if you are afraid that it may rain on the day of your wedding, A French business provides cloud seeding services. If you give this company ten million, they will perform cloud seeding to prevent rain on your wedding day. The biggest question you would have after hearing this would be, "If this technology is truly so wonderful, how can we solve the water crisis in our country?" Some areas are experiencing protracted droughts, others are experiencing flooding-risky weather, and yet others are experiencing water shortages. why isn't this technology used?


Can humans control the weather?

We need to understand clouds. What are clouds and how do they form?

States of Matter in Water:

States of Matter in Water
Three forms of Water

Three states of matter of water are Ice, liquid water, and gaseous water vapor. In the event that something changes from one state to another, that process has a name. When ice turns into water the process is called melting. If water turns into ice, then it is called freezing. If water turns into water vapor, it is evaporation or vaporization. And if the water vapor reverts to water, it is known as condensation.

Water Vapor in the air:

What Is Humidity?
Water Cycle

There is a lot of water vapor in the air. If the air contains a lot of water vapor, then we will say that there is a lot of humidity in the air. Lesser water vapor content means lower humidity. When we move further up from the earth, you know that when this water vapor rises in the sky, with the increase of altitude, the colder it gets. Like, it is very cold in the mountains. Now, when this water vapor is at a higher altitude, it condenses due to cold. 


This water vapor turns into water. Extremely small, tiny water droplets. When these water droplets are suspended in the air, we see clouds. Actually, these are clouds. These small water droplets that make up the clouds are minuscule. Their diameter is a hundredth of a millimeter, which is quite minuscule. In a cloud, there are millions of these droplets. The environment becomes even colder as a cloud rises in altitude. This implies that in addition to condensing, it also freezes. These water droplets transform into minuscule ice crystals, and it is these ice crystals that make up the clouds.

Types of clouds:

There are two types of clouds. One is made of water droplets and the other is made of ice crystals.

  •         Ice crystal
Ice crystal
Ice crystal

It's simple to notice how the two differ from one another. The ice crystal clouds are higher in the atmosphere. There is no obvious dividing line and they are thinner.

  •          Water droplets
Water droplet cloud

A water droplet is a tiny portion of liquid water that is entirely or nearly entirely surrounded by free surfaces. When liquid builds up at the bottom of a tube or other surface barrier, a hanging drop known as a pendant drop might result. Drops can also result from the atomization of a bigger solid mass or the condensation of a vapor. The temperature determines whether or not water vapor will condense into droplets.
Water droplets make up the dense clouds that are closer to the ground. 

How do these clouds rain?

What happens is that these small droplets, when they keep accumulating, more droplets keep joining in, the clouds keep getting bigger, and these small droplets start colliding with each other, they mix with each other and form big droplets. These big droplets go up into the atmosphere and freeze to form ice crystals However, the ice crystals also clash with one another to grow larger. This process continues until the ice crystals become so big that because of their weight, they begin to fall to the ground.

·         Snowfall:

When this happens, the ice crystals fall on the ground. While falling down, the temperature of the air is cold, when they do, it will be like a snowfall.

·         Rain:

If the air near the ground is warm, the ice crystals will melt and fall like rain droplets. This is how it rains.

Advantages of Cloud Seeding

Concerns and Considerations

Increased Precipitation

Efficacy Debate

Agricultural Enhancement

Ethical and Legal Issues

Drought Mitigation

Environmental Impact

Water Resource Management

Unintended Consequences

Increased Precipitation

Efficacy Debate

Agricultural Enhancement

Ethical and Legal Issues


Cloud Seeding Discovery. :

Then in the history of humans, this technology was introduced by chance, due to an accident. For such accidents, there's a word in, Serendipity. It means, by chance, something happens that ends up benefitting us. A big example of a serendipitous discovery is the discovery of a vaccine. When Dr. Alexander Fleming invented penicillin, it was an accident. Cloud Seeding was also a serendipitous discovery.

Dr Vincent Shaefer's experiment:

In 1943, Dr. Vincent Shaefer was an American chemist and meteorologist. He was researching aircraft icing and precipitation. He conducted his investigation using a cold box in 1946. A box that was very cold. While testing something else, during his experiments, He frequently exhaled in this chilly box. As you know, when we breathe out of our mouth it contains water vapor, and if it's cold outside, it will condense. He noticed this while doing the experiment.

Dr Vincent Shaefer's experiment

You can see this yourself, it feels like you are exhaling smoke or fog when you are outside in chilly weather. What you believe to be smoke or fog are the same tiny water droplets. These tiny droplets are formed from the condensation of the water vapor that you exhale. The same procedure creates clouds. So it's not wrong to say that you can blow out a mini cloud during winter. Dr Shaefer also noticed the same thing but he took it one step further.

He wondered about what would happen if he cooled the box down further. To do this, he used dry ice. In essence, dry ice is carbon dioxide in a solid state. It is commonly used for refrigeration and cooling. And it exists only at a temperature of -78°C. He filled the cold box with dry ice as a result. And after that, when he exhaled into the box, he saw something miraculous. The air that he blew out millions of small ice crystals appeared out of nowhere. He saw it as a blueish haze.

He observed that water vapor will rapidly condense into ice crystals if the temperature is suddenly lowered. At the very end, this occurs in the clouds. When those ice crystals become huge and heavier than the atmosphere. He saw that using dry ice has sped up this process. Dr Shaefer immediately conducted more experiments to understand what was happening exactly.

Finally, when he understood things, He came to understand that it has practical applications as well. Why not try to instantly cool the clouds in the sky by using dry ice, so that we can get instant snowfall or rain.

November 13th, 1946, out of New York:

On this flight, he carried 2.5 kg of dry ice, and he tested it on a cloud near Mount Greylock. He literally threw crushed dry ice out of the plane, on top of the clouds, and the result was amazing. He saw instant heavy snowfall and rain. And cloud seeding was a result of this. Today, Dr. Vincent Shaefer is credited for inventing cloud seeding.

Wilhelm Reich:

He claimed to have invented a cloud-buster machine in America. He claimed that using Orgone energy, by using cosmic energy, could manipulate the atmosphere and cause rain. He named his research Cosmic Orgone Engineering. But as you can guess, He was someone who made false statements. His machine didn't work at all It was merely a scheme to steal the glory. Interestingly, in addition to Dr. Shaefer, there was another scientist. Who was working on cloud seeding technology but from a completely different perspective

Dr Berhard Vonnegut:

In order for cloud seeding to function, he didn't want to utilize dry ice to make the clouds colder. He wanted to use a chemical to carry out the process. His concept was based on water's ability to condense. Something that you may not know is that the process of condensation has a condition. To convert water vapor into water, to undergo the process of condensation, a non-gaseous surface is required. That is, the process of condensation cannot be completed without a solid or liquid surface. If there is no surface, condensation cannot happen. It is said that without this surface, water vapor will remain as water vapor even if the temperature falls to -10°C.

How can that happen without any surface?

There is a surface, of course. The small dust particles in our atmosphere, the pollens floating around in the air, act as surfaces in the condensation process for clouds to form. The thing is, the better the surface, the faster and better would condensation be.


Humidity in bathroom glass

 A practical example is in your bathroom. When you take a shower if there are glass surfaces around the shower area, you can see condensation on the glass. The water droplets collect on it. Or when there's high humidity. 

humidity in glass

You may have observed that during the winter, at the edges of windows, there is a lot of condensation, Water droplets form there because there is a lot of humidity inside the house, high water vapor content in the air, and the water vapor condenses when it touches the windows' chilly glass. Additionally, the condensation has a surface because of the glass.  

Cloud Seeds or Cloud Condensation Nuclei:

If a better surface can be provided, the condensation process will be faster. He conducted research using substances like silver and iodide. Using silver iodide, he discovered that, silver iodide is a good surface for water vapor. Silver iodide has the property to absorb a lot of moisture. So water vapor gets attracted to it and gets converted into water. Today, we know about several materials like silver iodide, which can absorb the moisture around them. We call these materials Cloud Seeds or Cloud Condensation Nuclei. Dr Shaefer threw dry ice on top of the clouds, we can use these cloud seed materials and throw them on the clouds, to speed up the condensation process. So that we get rain.

cloud condensation nuclei
Cloud Condensation Nuclei

Although you would believe that this is a novel technology, General Electric was already employing both of these techniques in 1946. Additionally, it was a ground-breaking finding at the time. For the first time in history, humans were able to control the weather. After that, the process of cloud seeding gradually improved. First of all, people realized that the practice of scattering cloud seeds from aircraft is a costly form of cloud seeding.

An alternative to this was to shoot up rockets from the ground that contained cloud seeds so that the seeds would be dispersed upon impact with the clouds. As soon as the people and governments of the world came to know about this invention, everyone started looking for ways they could use this cloud-seeding technology for their own benefit.

Thailand Royal Rainmaking Project:

In November 1955, the king of Thailand launched the Thailand Royal Rainmaking Project. He was among the first few people to realize that we can use this technology to counter the effects of drought. In Thailand, farmers were often suffering due to droughts. This method suggested by the king was somewhat successful. Today, this program is run by the Royal Rainmaking and Agriculture Aviation Department of Thailand. Later, in 2001, the Eureka Organization awarded the king of Thailand for this. Many countries realized that they could also block the rain by using cloud seeding.

Thailand Royal Rainmaking Project
Thailand Royal Rainmaking Project

We are speeding up the condensation process. We are trying to get the water droplets in the clouds to rain as soon as possible. So if on a specific day, in a specific area, we want to prevent rain then over the last several days cloud seeding needs to be carried out in the surrounding areas. That means the water droplets in the clouds would no longer be any clouds and it would have rained already. So, no rain for the few days mentioned.

China used cloud seeding technology in the 2008 Beijing Olympics:

 China employed this specific method in 2008 during the Beijing Olympics They wanted to avoid any rain during the opening ceremony so that there would be no problems. After this, in February 2009, China used iodide sticks when a drought in Beijing was expected.

China used cloud seeding technology in the 2008 Beijing Olympics

To counter that, they made snowfall in the Beijing area. Twelve highways had to be closed as a result of the three days of snowfall. And now they plan to revive the Yangtze River using this process. Reviving such a large river won't be simple, but with careful planning, it might be possible. In fact, with proper planning and proper utilization of resources.

Artificial snowfall in resorts:

Artificial snowfall in ski resorts
Artificial snowfall ski resorts

Snow makes me think of all the ski resorts in the US that utilize this method to guarantee there is enough snowfall. Because skiers require consistent snowfall at ski resorts. If there is no snowfall, the resorts will go out of business. Thus, they create snow artificially using this procedure. These were actual applications of cloud seeding.

Did you know that cloud seeding can also be used to reduce the size of hail?

 The fog that we see, can reduce the amount of fog, especially around airports, so that flights can stick to their schedule. This is used in a few airports all over the world to manage the fog. A good illustration of this is Bulgaria. The National Network of Hail Protection was formed in Bulgaria. They placed silver iodide rockets around the farms in an intentional manner. When it is expected to hail, they use the rockets to control it. It takes only 10 minutes to do this. This strategy proved to be very effective.

The data collected since the 1960s has proved that the heavy losses in the agriculture sector were avoided due to this technology.

Cloud seeding technology in Russia:

Russia tried a very interesting method of cloud seeding.

In 2008, they tried to seed clouds using cement bags. Literally using cement. But what happened was, on 17th June 2008, a cement bag was hurled at the clouds, didn't melt in the clouds rather, it fell on a house. And in a man's home, a 3-foot-deep pit developed.

Every technology has its pros and cons.

  •        It is not possible that there is a miraculous technology like cloud seeding with no harm to it. The long-term effects of cloud seeding on our weather are the most prominently stated issue. 
  •         All the studies done so far on cloud seeding have demonstrated no evidence of long-term environmental harm. This is due in part to the fact that if you understand this process in depth, you will understand what this process is. We are speeding up the effect of condensation.
  •         We are not making clouds miraculously. We are forcing the existing clouds to rain instantly rather than later. So, if you give it some thought, you'll see that this technology isn't as helpful as you might imagine. We can postpone tomorrow's rain today.
  •          Alternatively, we can move it a little distance away. Overall, nevertheless, we are unable to increase the air's humidity. Clouds can only develop in the presence of water vapor.

How will cloud seeding be useful?

This is the reason, why cloud seeding is a technology that many researchers claim does not work. It is not possible to increase the total amount of rain. We do not have any concrete evidence for this, either in favor or against. In the beginning, people were also concerned that using silver iodide potentially harm people or other animals in the event of significant silver iodide exposure. However, since just a small amount of silver iodide is utilized, there are no ecological, environmental, or health effects from cloud seeding.

Cloud Zapping:

In recent times, for cloud seeding, new technologies are also being developed. Such as the recent technology of Cloud Zapping. With this technique, drones soar into the sky and zap the clouds with electricity. It has been found that with the help of this electric charge, the small droplets merge together more easily to form big droplets. With this technique, drones soar into the sky and zap the clouds with electricity.

Cloud Zapping
Cloud Zapping

Additionally, it has been proposed in various places that it is recommended to combine the usage of cloud seeding and cloud zapping technology.  Using silver iodide as well as providing electric currents so that clouds can rain faster. Additionally, it has been proposed in various places that it is recommended to combine the usage of cloud seeding and cloud zapping technology.

Where cloud seeding technology was used for the wrong purposes?

During the Vietnam War in the 1970s American Air Force launched Operation Popeye This took place between 1967 and 1972. The goal of this extremely secret program was to prolong the monsoon season in some regions of Vietnam. The North Vietnamese military's supplies were impacted. The roads would be impassable due to severe rain. 

The likelihood of landslides would be higher due to the fragile soil. It would be detrimental to the troops in Vietnam. The motto of the American Air Force was Make Mud, Not War. They used silver iodide for cloud seeding to bring heavy rains in Vietnam. According to reports, this is the first and only instance of meteorological warfare. No other nation has since abused this technology.

Chemtrail Conspiracy Theories:

Circulating among people with regards to this technology. Texas, USA, saw snowfall in 2021, an extremely rare phenomenon. Many conspiracy theorists said that for personal gain, the government controls the weather. They are deliberately making it snow in Texas. They also attributed this to billionaire Bill Gates. For making it snow. 

Chemtrail Conspiracy
Chemtrail Conspiracy

Later, the same conspiracists claimed that the government was to blame for the California drought it too was because of the government's weather manipulation. These allegations are connected by a broad conspiracy theory is called Chemtrail Conspiracy Theory.


  • The idea behind this theory is that all aircraft contain chemicals that can modify the weather, psychologically manipulate people, and control the human population. 
  • Obviously, these claims have been repeatedly proven false by scientists. There is no such thing as everything about the technology. 
  • It is a limited technology. It can undoubtedly be applied strategically in some situations. Such as avoiding rain at the Olympic opening ceremony. 

It is helpful in preventing rain at a cricket match. Or you can utilize this technology if you have millions of rupees to halt the rain for your wedding. Overall, for major events, to fight droughts, and to fight climate change, this technology will probably remain useless.

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