Weather Modification Now
A Growth Business
By William Thomas
SEATTLE, Washington, (ENS) - Someone is finally doing something about the weather. As water authorities around a parched globe rush to contract weather modification specialists to replenish depleted reservoirs for irrigation, drinking water and hydroelectric generation, weather modification has become a growth business.
In the United States, at least 29 states have licensed weather modification programs. Weather Modification Inc. of Fargo, North Dakota has been working with the Kings River Conservation District (KRCD) in California's Central San Joaquin Valley since 1954. Responsible for one of the world's richest agricultural regions, the KCRD water management agency has consistently contracted for cloud seeding above the crucial Pine Flat Reservoir.
According to Weather Modification Inc. (WMI), "The program's objective is to increase precipitation efficiency of clouds and storm systems crossing the watershed." WMI says that artificially-induced rainfall in the Kings River Conservation District replenishes groundwater depleted by heavy use, allowing uninterrupted hydroelectric power generation.
Employing techniques little changed since Dr. Vincent Schaefer undertook the first weather modification experiments for General Electric in 1946, cloud seeding companies use aircraft or ground generators to release silver iodide particles into clouds when temperature and moisture are ripe for rain. Attracting clumps of moisture, the silver iodide particles trigger formation of ice crystals which then fall as additional rain or snow.
TRC North American Weather Consultants has conducted more than 200 weather modification projects to augment normal snow or rainfall since 1950. Using radar and aircraft sensors to track atmospheric changes, TRC works to refill reservoirs and generate snow for ski resorts. The weather modification company also drops dry ice to dissipate fog over busy airports.
Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, TRC claims that precipitation increases from its weather modification programs range from 10 to 15 percent over normal rainfall in the wintertime northern hemisphere areas to as much as 25 percent in tropical regions. A partial listing of the company's cloud seeding operations conducted through 1994 includes repeated application of silver iodide to rainclouds over Utah, California, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, Texas, Georgia, Oregon, Washington state, Iowa and British Columbia. Similar projects have enhanced municipal water supplies in Greece, Guatemala, Taiwan, Abu Dhabi, Jamaica and Mexico.
An 18 member U.S. Weather Modification Advisory Board established in April, 1977 has sought in vain to introduce a national weather modification policy. The board's efforts have been hampered by continuing uncertainties in weather prediction and weather's trans-border aspects which have already sparked lawsuits from litigants claiming to be harmed by floods resulting from weather modification.
Besides the unpredictability of its effects, cloud seeding's biggest drawback is that it requires clouds containing enough moisture for silver iodide crystals to tip near-saturation into rain or snow. Draining energy from budding hurricanes and hailstorms, or creating rain from a clear blue sky are the twin grails of more ambitious weather wizards.
Internationally recognized weather modification expert Thomas Henderson founded Atmospherics, Inc. in 1960. En route to Thailand from his Fresno, California headquarters to attend the World Meteorological Organization's International Weather Modification Conference, Henderson told ENS, "Within the weather modification ranks interest has always existed regarding discovery and development of potentially improved seeding materials."
According to testimony before a House subcommittee on Science and Technology in October, 1977 more than 60 countries were enagaged in active weather modification at that time. A discussion paper released at this early hearing called for "introducing perturbation energies to redirect the atmosphere's 'natural' energies" using infusions of chemical and electromagnetic energy.
Two decades later, a U.S. Air Force research study, "Weather as a Force Multiplier" outlines how powerful "ionospheric heaters" and clouds generated by chemical condensation trails - contrails - spread behind airborne tankers could allow U.S. aerospace forces to "own the weather" by the year 2025. Military researchers are already attempting to influence the weather "by adding small amounts of energy at just the right time and space," the report stated.
Array of HAARP antennas photographed by the HAARPcam, February 22, 1999. Located in Gakon, Alaska, an experimental U.S. Navy and Air Force ionospheric heater known as the High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) has been projecting tightly-focused beams of intense radio-frequency energy into the atmosphere for the past several years.
Bernard Eastlund, the inventor and original patent-holder for HAARP, notes NATO interest in modifying the weather for military advantage. In May, 1990 a NATO paper, "Modification of Tropospheric Propagation Conditions" detailed how the atmosphere could be modified to absorb electromagnetic radiation by spraying polymers behind high-flying aircraft.
Absorbing microwaves transmitted by HAARP and other atmospheric heaters linked from Puerto Rico, Germany and Russia, these artificial mirrors could heat the air, inducing changes in the weather.
U.S. Patent 4253190 describes how a mirror made of "polyester resin" could be held aloft by the pressure exerted by electromagnetic radiation from a transmitter like HAARP.
A Ph.D. polymer researcher who wishes to remain anonymous told this reporter that if HAARP's frequency output is matched to Earth's magnetic field, its tightly-beamed energy could be imparted to molecules "artificially introduced into this region." This highly reactive state could then "promote polymerization and the formation of new compounds," he explained.
According to Eastlund, two U.S. companies make polymer products with microwave-absorbing properties. Heat generation need to modify the weather can be fostered by adding magnetic iron oxide powder to polymers exuded by high-flying aircraft. Radio-frequency-absorbing polymers such as Phillips Ryton F-5 PPS are sensitive in the 1-50 MHz regime, Eastlund pointed out. HAARP transmits between two and 10 MHz.
Former Raytheon missile engineer Tommy Farmer has been collecting samples from the strangely lingering contrails covering U.S. skies for the past two years. "The chemist I had originally engaged to analyze the material, during microscopic exam, had noticed yellow orange orbs impregnated into the filaments of the material," Farmer told ENS. Looking for living pathogens, the researchers discounted the non-organic material. "In retrospect," Farmer muses, "I must wonder if the orange yellow orbs might be an oxidizing ferrous alloy as described in Dr. Eastlund's commentary."
While admitting that an atmospheric mirror could be made from existing polymers, weather expert Henderson told ENS, "I'm not too sure a required very large mirror could be held aloft by strongly focused RF energy. Right now the amount of heat required to alter the weather far exceeds any realistic system I can imagine."
HAARP's U.S. Air Force and Navy sponsors claim that their transmitter will eventually be able to produce 3.6 million watts of radio frequency power. But on page 185 of an October, 1991 "Technical Memorandum 195" outlining projected HAARP tests, there is a call by the ionospheric effects division of the U.S. Air Force Phillips Laboratory for HAARP to reach a peak power output of 100 billion watts. Commercial radio stations commonly broadcast at 50,000 watts.
A bigger objection to HAARPs ability to hurt the weather comes from the Ph.D. polymer researcher interviewed above, who points out that jet tankers normally cruise at 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) altitude. "I don't know if it is possible to create this [artificially heated] region so close to the ground. None of the patents I have looked at are claiming anything less than 50 kilometers (31 miles). Furthermore, at the 10 kilometer height, it is hard to see how HAARP would have anything to do with effects seen in the lower 48 states."
Whatever the reasons, this winter has produced some of the wackiest weather ever seen over the United States. Usually a hot weather phenomenon, dozens of wintertime tornadoes have struck Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana and Alabama this year. On February 11-12, temperatures in Chicago, Dayton, Charleston, Indianapolis and other cities ricocheted between the low seventies and the twenties, with overnight snow falling in some of those cities basking in sunlight during the day.
While temperature records are normally broken by no more than a tenth of a degree, the World Meteorological Organization reports global temperatures up more than 0.6 degrees Celsius since the end of the last century.
As Pacific hurricanes packing 220 mile-per-hour winds introduce a new Category 6 into storm lexicons, tropical mahi mahi and marlin are being caught off the coast of Washington state.
Department of Energy researchers Alan Schroeder and David Bassett note that 15 weather-related disasters in the U.S. since 1992 have cost $70 billion in damages and several hundred deaths from floods, heat waves, hurricanes, blizzards and hail storms.
With HAARP shut down for February and not scheduled for reactivation until March, 1999, the race is on to modify climate being brought to a boil by carbon emissions generated by burning fossil fuels, methane releases from melting permafrost and record levels of heat-trapping cloud cover. Despite exotic technologies and squadrons of cloud-seeding aircraft, the people doing the most to change the weather may be us.
© < Environment News Service (ENS) 1999. All Rights Reserved.