What is cloud seeding and why is it important in the aviation industry?
Weather is an important element to consider when planning the routes and schedules for air traffic. This is because different types of weather can impact air traffic in a number of ways, including the speed of flight and visibility. Precipitation and fog are two of the most common weather concerns within the aviation industry due to the ways in which they disrupt normal flight proceedings.
This is where the process of cloud seeding comes in. But what exactly is cloud seeding and why is it so important within the aviation industry? Read on to find out more.
What is cloud seeding?
Cloud seeding is the incredibly technical process of modifying the microphysical characteristics of clouds in order to change either the type of precipitation or the amount of precipitation. Cloud seeding is done by artificially dispersing a substance into the cloud, such as condensation nuclei. This addition of condensation nuclei forms the basis upon which additional raindrops or snowflakes can form, leading to a change in the weather.
What are the benefits of cloud seeding?
When it comes to aeronautics, cloud seeding is a useful and essential process. There are many benefits of cloud seeding, including the following:
- Cloud seeding can reduce the amount of fog by turning the fog into rain, therefore improving the visibility of those piloting aircraft.
- Cloud seeding can improve the safety of airborne crafts by decreasing the number of hailstone particles present in the air, again by changing the particles into raindrops.
- Cloud seeding allows for the more predictable regulation of the weather, leading to more consistent and reliable flight plans for current and future aircrafts.
How is cloud seeding carried out?
As mentioned previously, cloud seeding is the process of modifying the structure of a cloud by adding particles to alter the chemical balance of the cloud in order to increase or decrease precipitation.
The process of physically adding these particles to the clouds is typically achieved in one of the two following ways:
1. By using large cannons to shoot the particles into the sky
This first method of cloud seeding is a ground-based technique that utilises cannons in order to shoot the particles into the sky. Cannon-based cloud seeding is particularly effective at altering lower altitude clouds, but it is still effective at modifying those higher up too.
2. By using airplanes to drop the particles into the clouds from above
The second method of cloud seeding is an airborne technique that involves airplanes dropping the affecting particles into clouds from above. Airborne cloud seeding can alter clouds at any altitude, depending on the height of the aircraft.
Overall, cloud seeding is an efficient form of weather management that allows aeronautical experts to alter the weather conditions in order to benefit air traffic. The reasons for cloud seeding are plenty and include improving visibility and navigational abilities of pilots, decreasing the risk of hailstone damage and regulating weather conditions in order to plan flight routes more adeptly.