Artificial system

Persistent drought leads to growing demand for rain bombs to create artificial precipitation

People walk in the rain Photo: Xinhua

Affected by continued high temperatures and little rain this year, many places across China have used rain bombs to create artificial precipitation, driving strong demand for the devices.

“Our sales are rising sharply and supplies are insufficient,” Jiangxi Xinyu Guoke Technology Co told stock investors on Wednesday.

Jiangxi Xinyu Guoke, a producer of artificial weather influencing equipment and meteorological equipment including rain-enhancing rockets, said the company was rushing to produce 20,000 rain bombs to help the country fight against the drought, according to the Securities Times.

Xinyu Guoke was one of the first companies engaged in the R&D and production of artificially modified weather rockets. Its 2020 financial report indicates that it has an annual production capacity of 50,000 weather modification and rain enhancement rockets, and that the company has a good relationship with the meteorological departments of nearly 1 000 counties across China.

The cls.cn news portal said that since May, its rain bomb assembly production line has been operating at full capacity, with a daily output of 400 units.

Shaanxi Zhongtian Rocket Technology Co, another giant manufacturer of model rockets and forest fire bombs, said its production of 100,000 rain bombs had been approved by experts from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in July.

China is a vast country, with variable rainfall depending on the location. But overall, sales of rain-enhancing rockets remained flat.

The official WeChat account of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp said on Tuesday that the Zhongtian rocket can produce more than 400 rain bombs per day, and the production line automation rate has reached more than 60 percent.

In addition, local governments have stepped up purchases and stocks of rainproof products. Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is inviting bids for aircraft leasing to carry out artificial water augmentation operations with a maximum fee of 1.2 million yuan ($174,810) per month.

Large parts of China have experienced heat waves this year. The city of Chongqing in southwest China, for example, is experiencing the most severe sustained hot weather since 1961. Persistent drought and heat waves have caused multiple bushfires in mountainous areas of Chongqing, according to the municipal advertising department.

China’s national observatory on Tuesday renewed an amber drought alert, the second most severe warning in the country’s four-tier weather warning system.

Also on Tuesday, China’s national observatory continued to issue a red alert for high temperatures, the most severe warning in its four-level alert system. It is the 12th day in a row that the National Weather Center has issued a red alert for high temperatures.

On Tuesday, there were still high temperatures of 35-39C in many parts of the country. The highest temperatures in parts of eastern Sichuan, Chongqing and central Jiangxi were over 40°C.

China is easily affected by droughts and floods, given its vast territory and monsoon weather characteristics, and the demand for man-made rain-enhancing flares such as rain bombs is increasing.

China has the largest weather modification capability in the world, and its technical level is at the forefront of the world, Ma Jun, director of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, told the Global Times on Wednesday. that some cities also have a department to run it.

This is a good time for artificial precipitation, as the weather in recent days has changed from drought to rain. A typhoon is also active, bringing rainfall to the entire southeast coast, and cold air in the north is stronger, Ma said.

But he warned that controlling climate change cannot rely entirely on artificial influences. For example, when artificial rainfall occurs, it will have a more severe impact on certain areas that have been short of water for a long time.

Although China has the capacity, it is necessary to have a clear understanding of climate change. For example, some areas of the Yangtze River Valley have not had significant rainfall for more than 70 days and do not have the conditions for artificial rainfall, and the chemical materials of artificial rainfall may impact the environment, noted Ma.