Cover Story

Gov't to set up center for weather control

By Wang Shanshan (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-05-21 06:37
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A national command center for weather modification will be built before 2010 to coordinate the practices of rainmaking and hail suppression around the country.

China regularly suffers from natural disasters, and its weather-modification operations are the largest in the world, a report by the Xinhua News Agency said yesterday.

Thirty of the country's 34 provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions and special administrative regions and 1,952 of about 2,900 counties have been involved in such operations and they are equipped with 7,113 anti-aircraft guns, 4,991 special rocket launchers and more than 32,300 people, figures from the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) said.

Since 1999, some 250 billion tons of rain have been created and 470,000 sq km of land have been protected from hail. By 2010, the volume of artificial rain is expected to reach 50 billion tons a year, the Xinhua report said.

Weather modification is even being used to help Beijing prevent a downpour forecast for the opening day of the 2008 Olympics.

The report said that by 2010, all weather-modification efforts would be coordinated by central government with support from provincial, municipal and county administrations. A national weather-modification experimental base will also be launched, it said.

Having a national command center and experimental base will better protect the country against extreme weather conditions, the report quoted an unnamed official from the meteorological office as saying.

China is at more risk of being hit this year by extreme weather, such as drought, floods and typhoons, than at any time over the past decade because of climate change. Droughts could seriously affect northern areas, while heavy rainfalls could hit the south, Zheng Guoguang, director of the CMA, told China Daily last month.

Consideration is also being given to the health and safety of those involved in modification efforts.

In May last year, the operator of an anti-aircraft gun in Pengshui County of Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality had his right arm blown to pieces and a passer-by was shot dead.

The county has four such guns for use in weather modification.

On Friday in Jinan, capital of East China's Shandong Province, a meeting to discuss safety issues was held between officers from two of China's seven military areas headquartered in Jinan and Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu Province, and representatives of the North Sea Fleet of the navy, all of whom are involved in local weather-modification efforts.

(China Daily 05/21/2007 page3)