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Current Affairs

Indonesia plans cloud seeding to halt floods

Date: 03 January 2020 Tags: Disaster & Disaster Management

Issue

Indonesia will carry out cloud seeding in order to prevent further rainfall over the capital Jakarta, after deadly flash floods and landslides occured due to some of the heaviest rains in more than 20 years.

 

Background

The floods followed torrential rains on Dec. 31 and into the early hours of New Year’s day and inundated swathes of Jakarta and nearby towns.

 

Details

  • With more deluges forecast, two small planes have been readied to break up potential rain clouds in the skies above the Sunda Strait.

  • President Joko Widodo blamed delays in flood control infrastructure projects for the disaster, including the construction of a canal that has been delayed since 2017 due to land acquisition problems.

  • Widodo last year announced he will move Indonesia’s capital to East Kalimantan province on Borneo island, to reduce the burden on Jakarta, which is overpopulated and sinking. Jakarta and its surroundings are home to more than 30 million people.

  • Cloud seeding, or shooting salt flares into clouds in an attempt to trigger rainfall, is often used in Indonesia to put out forest fires during the dry season.

Cloud seeding

  • Cloud seeding is a weather modification technique that improves a cloud’s ability to produce rain or snow by artificially adding condensation nuclei to the atmosphere, providing a base for for snowflakes or raindrops to form.

  • After cloud seeding takes place, precipitation falls from the clouds back to the surface of the Earth.

  • Most cloud seeding operations use a compound called silver iodide (AgI) to aid in the formation of ice crystals. Silver iodide exists naturally in the environment at low concentrations, and is not known to be harmful to humans or wildlife.

Benefits

 It creates rain.
One big benefit of cloud seeding is being able to create rain in regions that are most affected by droughts, lessening the impact of the harsh climate. 

 

It makes all areas more hospitable.
There are dry regions of the world that are not habitable or even unsuitable for a visit due to drought. However, cloud seeding can allow for increased rainfall in these areas, making them more hospitable.

 

It could regulate the weather.
Many of the best areas to grow crops face severe weather, which can bring about damage to the produce.

 

Reduces pollution

Artificial rainfall in polluted areas can take down harmfull PM 2.5 particles that has the potential to cause problems to human population.

 

Drawbacks

It uses potentially harmful chemicals.
It is important to know that cloud seeding does involve the use of chemicals into the air, which means that it can potentially harm the environment, especially plants and animals.

 

It is not really proven to be effective.
After some evaluation of its effectiveness, cloud seeding is found not to be foolproof as of the moment.

 

It may affect the weather in a negative way.
Though it is believed to regulate the weather, cloud seeding is feared to ultimately change climatic patterns that exist on Earth.

 

It requires huge amounts of investments.
Aside from the health of plants and animals, the cost of cloud seeding is another big concern, as it could be really costly to deliver chemicals to the sky and have them released into the air.