Hail prevention and cloud seeding.
Mission Weather Modification
The application areas of cloud seeding, i.e. weather and cloud modification are diverse. It is mainly used to generate higher rainfall in the form of rain and snow thus improving, for example, freshwater reserves or winter sports conditions. Cloud seeding is also used to reduce rainfall or avoid hail damage. Furthermore, it serves to reduce fog and low-hanging clouds or smog in order to ensure the safety of operations in airports, roads, tunnels and industrial plants. Cloud seeding is already being used in dozens of countries around the world. The global increase in extreme weather events has contributed to the increasing focus not only on climate research, but also on the possibilities and opportunities of weather modification.
Cloud Seeding can influence the amount of rainfall. Aerosols in the clouds serve as a freezer or condensation core where water vapour can accumulate into rain drops. Cloud Seeding is placing artificial aerosols into clouds to promote the formation of rain drops. Silverjodid is used in most cases, since it is most similar to ice in its crystalline structure and can already work at -4°C as an effective freezer. When the Silver Jodid crystals come into contact with undercooled water, they together form an ice crystal. This continues to grow by the surrounding water vapour. Clouds can also be injected with dry ice, liquid propane or liquid nitrogen. When these substances are released, they cool the surrounding air to such a degree that ice crystals spontaneously emerge from the water vapor.
In warm maritime clouds that are too low to contain under-cooled water, hygroscopic Cloud Seeding is applied. The cloud is modified not by inserting artificial freezers, but by inserting condensation cores (salt) such as sodium chloride or potassium chloride.
Cloud Seeding can significantly increase the natural snowfall in order to expand fresh water reserves or improve the conditions for winter sports. However, it is also possible to reduce the amount of snow in order to avoid damage to buildings or to reduce the risk of avalanches.
Large cones are being cut off to prevent damage to plants, buildings, machines, cars or industrial products.
If cloud seeding is used to protect hailstorms, the aim is to enrich thunderstorm cells with artificial ice nuclei.
By increasing the concentration of ice nuclei, there is less available water for each freezer core that could accumulate. The ice nuclei can therefore not grow that strongly. Instead of a few large ice crystals, many small crystals are now forming, melting back down to the Earth’s surface. In addition, artificial ice crystals can cause an early rainfall.
This removes water from the cloud, which then is no longer available for the hail to grow.
Cloud seeding can remove fog and low-lying clouds to improve visibility and thereby ensure the safe operation of airports, roads, tunnels and industrial facilities.
Cloud seeding takes place, among other things, with the help of airplanes. Depending on the area of the cloud in which the material is introduced, a distinction is made between so-called base seeding and on-top seeding. With base seeding, the vaccine is injected at the bottom of the cloud and then naturally distributed by updrafts or thermals. With on-top seeding , the seeds are used above or within the cloud.
Soil-based generators can also be used, especially for sowing low-hanging, cold clouds (eg in mountainous terrain) in order to use the seed economically.
The specialized research team at IKON has been dealing with mesoscale meteorology and cloud microphysics for decades. Based on our extensive research and practical experience, we have developed complete new chemical compounds that are significantly more effective than traditional cloud seeding materials. At the same time, we were able to make our missions more economically and environmentally friendly. The innovative deployment systems developed by us – pyrotechnic and pneumatic flares, particle ejectors and ground-based generators – are safe, reliable and easy to use.
In order to explore atmospheric conditions around and between clouds more precisely, the IKON Institute for Quantity Physics of the atmosphere carries out laser-based lidar measurements. Lidar (short for light detection and ranking) is a method related to the radar for measuring atmospheric parameters. This technique allows the capture of smaller clouds and, above all, measures the water vapour around them, which significantly influences their growth and behaviour. Wet layers of air above the cloud indirectly affect cloud formation and are accurately captured by the lidar.
The measurements of aerosols and the microphysical cloud structure serve to get a better understanding of the processes of cloud and circulation coupling. The mutual influence of clouds and atmosphere is more comprehensive and detailed and serves as a basis for innovative approaches to weather modification.
The core of the measurement campaign is the IKON research aircraft with a planned range of over 8,000 kilometers and an upper operating altitude of up to 15 kilometers. It is equipped with an extensive range of modern remote sensing sensors (especially Radar and Lidar) as well as a device for ejecting drop probes. In addition, the planned cloud seeding and hail avoidance aircraft help to support the measurements.
In addition to aircraft measurements, research vessels are used, which are based on atmospheric and ocean observations. Radiosondes, lidar and radar techniques as well as balloon kites and unmanned flight systems are used for this purpose. The conditions on the sea surface are important factors for the development of the atmosphere above and for the cloud formation. In particular large swirls and frontal zones, the interlinking of oceanic and atmospheric processes should be better researched and made representable for the model simulation.
A land-based weather radar records precipitation development with high temporal and spatial resolution over an area of up to 250 kilometres. The measurements from ships and flight paths can thus be brought into the spatial and temporal context of a large-scale distribution of rainfall and development.
The IKON Institute for Quantum Physics of the Atmosphere researches the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere from the ground to the stratosphere. Knowledge of the dynamic, cloud-physical and chemical processes occurring there is the basis for a wide range of aerospace applications. Both on a regional and on a global scale, the relevant mechanisms and changes in the atmosphere are quantified and systematically investigated using remote sensing, measuring aircraft and computational models.