As an extreme drought grips Mexico, leading to crop losses, a lack of water and higher food prices, the government is trying to bring desperately-needed rain by turning to a controversial technology: cloud seeding.
In July, the country kicked off the latest phase of a cloud seeding project that aims to artificially stimulate rainfall. It is targeting 62 municipalities clustered in its north and northeast, with the aim of “combating the effects of drought and contributing to the recharge of aquifers,” according to a statement from the Ministry of Agriculture.
Cloud seeding is a technology first discovered in the 1940s. Since then, it has been used in around 50 countries, including in the United States and China. Mexico has been experimenting with weather modification for more than seven decades.
However, some scientists remain very cautious about the effectiveness of cloud seeding and warn that it is not a solution to drought.
“It has a controversial history because it’s very difficult to prove what you are doing from a scientific perspective,” Roelef Bruintjes, a weather modification scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in the US, told CNN.
For cloud seeding to work, you first need a cloud. Planes or drones inject particles into the cloud that attract water droplets to form around them, increasing the chance of rainfall or snowfall.
“The whole idea is not ‘creating clouds’ – be-cause we cannot make a cloud, we cannot chase away a cloud,” Bruintjes said. “But it’s trying to get a larger percentage of the water that is processed in the cloud down to the surface.”
Mexico’s project involves spraying silver iodide particles into clouds from planes. The government hopes stimulating rainfall can help farmers better cope with the drought that has swept large swaths of the country.—AFP