The age-old adage states weather: everybody talks about it but nobody does something about it. The Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), commonly called drones, are about to change it all. The UAS are now being utilised to seed clouds and the future hints of climate control, with possible global implications.
The first flight of a cloud-seeding drone was carried out in Nevada, under the supervision of the Federal Aviation Administration, abbreviated FAA.
Cloud seeding involves scattering of silver iodide so as to change the rain cycle and to enhance the rainfall in areas hit by droughts. The current methods of cloud seeding include flying above the clouds and releasing AgI into the clouds. The use of drones is an attempt to find economical and efficient means for cloud seeding.
Jeff Tilley, Director Weather Modification Activities at the Desert Research Institute, Nevada, is optimistic about the project and believes that drones will rule the future of weather modification industry. While ground cloud seeding methods are economical, they do not span enough area. On the other hand, airborne cloud seeding methods cover a large area but are quite expensive, most of the cost being incurred by the fuel.
“You can very quickly go through a budget for a year’s supply of fuel during one storm if you’re not careful. Fuel is expensive; pilots are expensive and often in a storm you have to go up and down multiple trips.”
Tilley reiterated that cloud-seeding drones offer the best of both the techniques, as they are not only a cost-effective technology but also capable of covering a broad expanse of clouds.
“The smaller size of the drones, and the fact they are not manned provides potential opportunities for drones to fly below cloud base and seed there as well as at cloud top.”
The State of Nevada is committed to the task and hopes to lead the UAS industry, especially in the UAS for Weather Modification niche.
The Governor’s Office of Economic Development for the State of Nevada said in an official statement.
“From the state perspective, there’s that potential to capture a percentage of a $90 billion revenue-producing industry. The industry was developed here and the subject matter expertise resides here in the state.”
Watch history being made as the first cloud seeding drone takes off in this video: