Fri, Mar 15, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Initial cloud-seeding efforts disappoint


A meteorologist burns silver iodide and other catalysts in an artificial rain-maker at the Shihkang Dam in Taichung County yesterday.


Despite creating only a few showers yesterday by artificially inducing rain, water-resource officials in northern Taiwan said they're ready to try again to modify the weather.

The drizzle did little to alleviate the drought in the northern part of the nation. It rained on and off in Taipei City and Taipei and Taoyuan counties, but Hsinchu, where influential high-tech firms are situated, received only limited showers in the afternoon.

However, more rain can be expected in northern and northeastern Taiwan today and tomorrow as a cold front approaches, forecasters at the Central Weather Bureau said yesterday.

In addition, "by the middle of next week, people could expect the approach of another front, which might bring Taiwan more water," said Daniel Wu (吳德榮), deputy director of the bureau's forecast center.

Equipment to release silver-iodide smoke particles into clouds to help induce rain was deployed yesterday at 12 places in central and northern Taiwan by Water Conservancy Bureau officials.

However, Lee Tieh-min (李鐵民), head of the North Water Resources Bureau under the Water Conservancy Bureau, told the Taipei Times that the cloud-seeding project was only carried out at 10 places where weather conditions were optimal.

Unsuitable conditions also led to the air force's Weather Wing deciding not to release dry ice into the top of clouds yesterday.

Water-resource officials were disappointed with the results of their cloud-seeding efforts. Scientific studies show that that a 10 to 20 percent increase in rainfall could be obtained by precipitation-enhancement projects such as cloud seeding.

Even so, Lee said that water-resource officials would seize any chance to induce more rain.

"The equipment needed for inducing artificial rain will not be dismantled until May, when the rainy season usually begins," Lee told the Taipei Times.

Officials said that timely rainfall would be the only solution to the drought.

Reservoirs such as Shihmen Dam in Taoyuan County and Mingte Dam in Miaoli County did not see appreciable rises in water levels yesterday. For example, the Central Weather Bureau said that Linkou received just 27mm of rain.

The 65 million tonnes of water in the Shihmen Dam is the third-lowest level on record. Officials say the dam's water could meet demand through the end of May -- if conservation efforts are successful.

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