China’s meteorological bureau guarantees good weather for Olympics
BEIJING, Feb. 1 – Beijing’s Meteorological Bureau announced yesterday at a Beijing Olympics Organizing Committee meeting that they are fully prepared to take control of the most unpredictable element in sports – the weather. China is a world leader along with the Russians in what is known as “weather modification science;” however this has usually been deployed to create rain, rather than eliminate it.
Cloud seeding for example has long been used by the Chinese since the 1950s to bring on downpours, particularly in the North, where desertification has eaten away at precious arable land resources, and trying to induce rain to fall in the drier provinces. There has been success – deserts are slowly waning in China and more land is being reclaimed. The Russians, too, have long been experts in this field – sophisticated rain seeding carried out over Chernobyl prevented much contaminated rain from reaching further than it did in the aftermath of the nuclear catastrophe. However, the reverse procedure – ensuring no rain falls – is little used.
Summer is generally a rainy season for North Asia, even in hot Beijing, where on August 8, the date set for the opening ceremony, a 50 percent chance of it raining exists; according to the Beijing bureau’s own statistics. The weather modification technique, similar to that of cloud seeding, but requiring far more accuracy, is ready to go ahead to preserve a “clear weather window” over the 91,000-seat Olympic Stadium it was announced. Due to the precise science of this, a decision would need to be taken to deploy the technique “just one day prior to the event or very close to it” according to Wang Yubin, an engineer from the meteorological bureau.
Training for this eventuality has been going on for the past two years, with trials being held during the China-Africa summit in Beijing last year, and also at a panda festival in Sichuan. China’s Bureau of Weather Modification was founded in the 1980s and is believed to be the largest in the world, with an army of some 37,000 reserve assistants who assist during rain seeding programs nationally, and an entire battalion’s worth of equipment, including aircraft, rocket launchers and anti-aircraft guns to propel cloud seeding chemicals, such as silver iodide, salt and dry ice into clouds.
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