As Index.hu notes, from the spring on, Hungary will subjugate hail. Weather will be manipulated a little, but it will be for everyone’s benefit of tens of billions of forints per year, at least the promise is so. Sounds like sci-fi? Testing had been going on in a factory in Southern Transdanubia for 25 years.
In the May of 2018, the national system for restraining damage done by hailstone will be launched. Hungarian agriculture will save tens of millions of forints yearly with it, declared the competent Secretary of State last year.
In practice, this means that 984 generators will be installed around the country, which will evaporate silver-iodide into the air, preventing hail and the damage it causes.
The chemical will fall with the rain and will merely be absorbed in the ground. It will cost 1.8 billion HUF plus one and a half billion on a yearly basis for upkeep.
It all started with Vonnegut – not the famous writer, but his brother, dr. Bernard Vonnegut, researcher of the atmosphere. He was the first with his research team to evoke and observe the phenomenon of cloud seeding in the GE laboratory in 1946. This means they brought forth rain and snow from an artificial cloud using different substances such as salt or silver-iodide. Contemporary American press created a sensation from Vonnegut’s scientific results, but it soon turned out that realising the theory is not as easy as completing in a laboratory. Some also voiced doubts about intervening the course of nature.
Experiments have continued and at the end of the sixties, CIA used cloud seeding as a weapon in the Vietnam war.
It was called the Popeye operation. Americans tried to manipulate the monsoon to make rains longer and stronger, making it harder to move for the Vietnamese. Documents disengaged from encryption prove that the attempt was successful. In 1977, an international agreement abolished weather manipulation for military purpose.
Civil cloud seeding has grown into an industry ever since. According to Bloomberg’s synopsis, 52 countries are occupied with it.
China is the most important country involved, where cloud seeding is government coordinated and hundreds of millions are spent on bolstering the agriculture with watering brought about this way and cleaning big cities’ polluted air with huge rainfalls.
There has been a scientific debate on the measure of the effectiveness of the method, but beyond dispute, it works. Hail subjugating is a by-product of cloud seeding.
Hail formation requires environments of steady, upward motion of air with the parent thunderstorm (similar to tornadoes) and lowered heights of the freezing level. Humans can intervene in this process by adding a substance into the cloud that enhances the speed of the formation of ice crystals. This results in more but smaller pieces of ice that melt into the water by the time they reach the ground.
Recently silver iodide is thought to be the best substance for this purpose because its crystal structure is similar to that of ice.
At freezing point, it works as a seed starting from which the formation of ice starts, it freezes ice molecules around itself (this is why the technology is called cloud seeding).Photo: Wikicommons by DooFi
Silver iodide is dispersed by aircraft or by dispersion devices located on the ground (generators or canisters fired from anti-aircraft guns or rockets). The latter method was used in Hungary starting from the sixties with more or less success until 1990 when the operator National Insurance Company dissolved. One year later cloud seeding began again in the framework of the South-Hungarian Hail Averting Assertion in Baranya, Tolna, and Somogy counties. This organisation is called NEFELA, and it is still operating today; moreover, it is the sample for the national system.
NEFELA uses vaporising stations which will be the basis of the national system too.
This solution is much cheaper and is based on the phenomenon that clouds absorb the warm, wet air from near the ground. The plan is to build about a thousand generator stations around the country which will start vaporising the silver iodide solution 2-3 hours before the hail, for the alarm of the meteorological service. As a result, most of the hailstones will reach the ground in the form of water.
The National Chamber of Agriculture will be the proprietor, and they plan to spend
1.8 billion HUF on building the system and a yearly 1.5 billion HUF on maintaining it.
Based on the experience in Baranya county, each forint spent on prevention protected the agriculture from a damage worth 27 forints. If on the national level, this rate will remain the same, the profit will be of tens of billions of HUF, not to mention the prevention of damage done to cars, buildings, or the decreasing insurance premiums.