Like I always say – never underestimate the Chinese for accomplishing the impossible.
Yesterday the Chinese announced that they had created the world’s first artificial snowfall. Not with snow machines, like they have at ski resorts (and will no doubt be using more in the future as the climate warms). With tiny particles of silver iodide, which they sprinkled into clouds over Tibet. The particles acted like nucleation sites, encouraging the growth of ice crystals on their surfaces, which then fell as snow on the Tibetan plateau. Apparently they generated about 1cm of snow. It’s not much – but it’s certainly a start for anyone hoping to generate big mounds of the white stuff in this way. Which it seems they may be planning on doing, as many of the glaciers in the Himalayas have disappeared in the past century due to global warming. (Although, how they’re going to keep the snow from melting once they’ve created it is another question.)
The Chinese have actually been creating artificial rain in this way for years – they do it in order to dissipate air pollution with big downpours before public holidays. Apparently they plan to use this technique a great deal before the 2008 Olympics.
You know, something about this doesn’t quite sit right with me. I’m not quite sure why. There’s something about changing the weather – not just incidentally with pollution and deforestation – but deliberately that just seems… weird.