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Why China Is Launching the World's Largest Weather Control Machine

Picture of Matthew Keegan
Updated: 14 May 2018
Bring on the rain! China is installing tens of thousands of rain-making machines to artificially increase rainfall and water supply for its billions of people.

Not content with just forecasting the weather, China is taking action to control it. In a bid to increase water supply for its billions of people, China is planning to launch the world’s biggest rain-making network.

According to the South China Morning Post, China’s state-owned Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation has announced plans to introduce tens of thousands of rain-making machines. Once implemented, the rainmakers are expected to produce up to ten billion cubic meters of rainfall each year, equal to roughly 7% of China’s annual water consumption.

The machines will cover an area of thousands of miles across the Tibetan Plateau and mountains. The Tibetan Plateau is already the source of much of China’s water, but now the country will artificially create more to compensate for recent shortages.

The Tibetan Plateau where the rain-making machines will be deployed.
The Tibetan Plateau where the rain-making machines will be deployed. | © Jochen Westermann / WikiCommons

The rain machines will work by seeding the skies above the Tibetan Plateau with silver iodide particles. These particles induce the formation of clouds and once the clouds become unstable, this leads to artificially induced rainfall.

Each rain machine is expected to produce a three-mile long strip of clouds. Given that the Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation aims to implement tens of thousands of these machines, China will effectively be controlling the weather of an area that will span 620,000 square miles – three times the size of Spain.

One of the rain-making chambers that are already in place across the Tibetan Plateau.
One of the rain-making chambers that are already in place across the Tibetan Plateau. | © Maduo Government

The system will be monitored through weather satellites, and the silver iodicle particles needed to form the clouds will be released from planes and shot out of ground artillery.

The practice of controlling the weather is nothing new for China. In 2008, during the Beijing Olympics, the country claimed to have ‘cleared the skies’ and made it a rain-free event by shooting salt-and-mineral-filled bullets up into the air, which forced the rain to come early.

China is not the only country trying to control the rain. According to the World Meteorological Organization, at least 52 countries have current weather modification programs in place.