Scientists are Seeding Clouds in 8 States Stricken With Drought

Christopher Owen

Climate Change has remained one of the most severe threats to humanity and our planet over the past decade. From torrential rainfalls and never-ending flooding in some areas to scorching arid temperatures in others, it’s no question that people around the world have felt the detrimental weather and environmental impacts this issue has brought us. And now with the summer season roughly a month away, many states throughout the United States are expecting to receive little to no rainfall and incredibly hot temperatures as a result of the lack of moisture in the atmosphere. Drought is a silent killer that claims the lives of hundreds of thousands of people as it destroys plentiful fields of crops, makes the terrain unsuitable for farming, and dries out bodies of water which causes water shortages. Drought is a serious threat in the U.S., Africa, and parts of China, but the Midwestern United States specifically is projected to receive some of the hottest temperatures on record with minimal rainfall, leaving many fearing that this natural disaster will continue to wreak havoc without intervention.

However, there is hope after a group of scientists were able to create artificial clouds in the atmosphere through a process known as Cloud Seeding. Given today’s circumstances with the global climate crisis, Cloud Seeding is an essential step in the right direction towards mitigating the catastrophic impacts. This practice has been used numerous times before to provide the essential rainfall necessary for regions suffering from prolonged droughts. It has many purposes from creating thunderstorms to preventing hail storms from occurring. Today, it is being engineered to increase snowfall which will, in turn, replenish many states’ water levels. Silver iodide, a compound that has a crystalline structure very similar to ice, is used to naturally bind water molecules together and allows them to freeze, forming small particles of ice that fall to Earth’s surface as snow. Due to the lower vapor pressure of ice in comparison to liquid water, molecules are able to form faster than normal.

So far, eight states in the Midwest have begun reintroducing Cloud Seeding to combat the extreme drought many are experiencing. With the increase in snowfall rate, scientists hope to help bring a much-needed increase in water availability and amount to those who are struggling to overcome the drought. Although high levels of silver iodide in the atmosphere comes with some health risks, Cloud Seeding offers a promising solution to one of the many severe environmental issues threatening the lives of billions of people and our planet as a whole.