Areal Spread of the Effect of Cloud Seeding at the Whitetop Experiment

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Science  28 Mar 1969:
Vol. 163, Issue 3874, pp. 1445-1449
DOI: 10.1126/science.163.3874.1445


With reference to arguments that weather modification technology is sufficiently advanced for the federal government to finance cloud-seeding operations as a means of alleviating water shortages, an analysis of the Whitetop rain stimulation experiment was performed. The average 24-hour precipitation in six concentric regions up to 180 miles from the center of the target on 102 days of cloud seeding was less than that on the 96 experimental days without seeding. For distances less than 30 miles, the apparent loss of rain due to seeding was 32 percent. With the increase in distance, this apparent loss decreased to a minimum of 9 percent for gages between 120 and 150 miles from the center. However, the 48 gages at distances between 150 and 180 miles showed a 22 percent apparent loss of rain due to seeding. The estimated average loss of rain within the whole region of about 100,000 square miles was 21 percent of what would have fallen without seeding. When a 5-year experiment, expected to produce a 5 to 10-percent increase, shows a 20-percent decrease in rainfall, the relevant technology does not appear reliable enough for practical use.

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