Cloud seeding is the process of applying chemicals such as dry ice or silver iodide to clouds in order to stimulate precipitation, thereby creating rainfall. This is done through the creation of ice crystals from cloud droplets in a super cooled state. The chemicals are dispersed using light aircraft fitted with flares that distribute the chemicals over gathered clouds. The cloud droplets react with the silver iodide or dry ice and form ice crystals that are too heavy to stay suspended in the air and they then melt and fall, creating rain.
Cloud altering process
“At its essence, this process alters the microphysical processes within the cloud,” explains Franco van der Merwe, MD of Middelburg-based Water Analytical Services (WAS). “This process has been used all over the world for decades now and we believe that South Africa can benefit from using this technology.”
South Africa has experimented with cloud seeding in the past but with the current drought crisis affecting the Cape region, now may be the time to revisit this technology.
“Whether it is used for encouraging rainfall in areas affected by the drought, or helping farmers in other parts of the country ensure rainfall for their crops, cloud seeding has clear benefits,” says van der Merwe.
There are numerous cases backing up the effectiveness of cloud seeding worldwide. WAS has the ability to assist with cloud seeding in all parts of Southern Africa. They are equipped with a Piper Cheyenne twin turbine aircraft fitted with a flare deployment system.