CHINA / National

China leads world in rainmaking
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-06-05 05:39

JINAN: China has produced the world's leading force of rainmakers, in a drive to relieve droughts and fight fires, according to the National Meteorological Bureau.

The rainmaking army uses rockets, artillery and aircraft to sow chemicals and artificially induce rain in times of need, said an official with the bureau's Department of Forecasting Services and Disaster Mitigation.

Its aircraft alone have flown enough missions to fill four Yellow Rivers in the past five years.

They sowed rainmaking chemicals which brought down 210 billion cubic metres of water over 3 million square kilometres nearly a third of China's territory in 2,840 flights between 2001 and 2005.

Meanwhile rainmaking rockets and shells had been used 1,952 times by the end of 2005.

More than 3,000 people are employed in rainmaking with an arsenal of 7,000 cannons and 4,687 rocket launchers, the official told a recent meeting in Jinan, capital of East China's Shandong Province.

Engineers induce rain by chemically "seeding" clouds, with one method involving burning silver iodide.

And the chemical methods can be used not only to ease droughts and prevent hail, but also to fight fires.

Artificially-induced rain helped put out three major forest fires that raged for 10 days in north and northeast China before they were subdued on Friday.

Weather specialists also induced rain in early May in Beijing, helping relieve a drought and wash dust from the capital after it was battered by sandstorms.

(China Daily 06/05/2006 page2)