Will lasers be used to create rain where it’s needed and to guide lightning strikes away from danger? There’s been a certain amount of buzz about climate control in recent years. But the debate will get new life when the second Conference on Laser, Weather, and Climate meets at the World Meteorological Organization building in Geneva, Switzerland next month.
The first laser and weather conference took place in 2011. But there have been several advances since then — including some decent evidence that lasers can in fact be used to create rainfall.
There’s an indepth piece in Tuesday’s The Telegraph which summarizes a lot of the new research about lasers creating rain or controlling weather. It’s definitely worth a look.
But the short version is that scientists have now proved that very intense pulses of laser light can indeed cause ice crystals or water droplets to form. That leads to clouds. And if you’re lucky, the clouds lead to rain where it’s wanted.
Why is that important? The Telegraph suggested that you could make it rain ahead of important outdoor events, clearing the skies in advance.
The ability to guide lightning strikes with lasers could also be life-saving, if the technology allowed engineers to reroute the lightning away from airports, power plants, or other important structures.
In the United States, we have more pressing issues than arranging for sunny days for outdoor parades.
Although some regions have certainly enjoyed rainfall this summer, The Wichita Eagle noted that the US recently suffered the widest drought since 1956, with 55 percent of the continental US in moderate or extreme drought conditions by the end of June 2013.
And, even though it’s now late August, on Tuesday, Kansas said that 37 of its counties are still in emergency drought status.
If modern lasers can create rain, perhaps it’s past time to put that technology to work.
[top photo by Photowings via Shutterstock]