How rain seeding works. Photo: file

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Dharamshala — According to reports, China is attempting to build a rain-making system to increase the amount of rainfall on the Tibetan plateau.

South China Morning Post has reported that, "China has embarked on a mission to build a rain-making system which when complete will be three times the size of Spain."

The system, which involves an enormous network of fuel-burning chambers installed high up on the Tibetan mountains, could increase rainfall in the region by up to 10 billion cubic meters a year – about seven percent of China’s total water consumption, according to researchers involved in the project.

In order to build the system, China’s state owned Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation will build tens of thousands of small chambers which will burn solid fuel that produces silver iodide in a 1.6 million square kilometer area.

The chambers burn solid fuel to produce silver iodide, a cloud-seeding agent with a crystalline structure much like ice.

The chambers stand on steep mountain ridges facing the moist monsoon from south Asia. As wind hits the mountain, it produces an upward draft and sweeps the particles into the clouds to induce rain and snow.

The ground-based network will also employ other cloud-seeding methods using planes, drones and artillery to maximise the effect of the weather modification system.

While the idea is not new and has been tested by the United States and Russia, China is the first country that is attempting to implement it on such a large scale.

The project is likely to affect the rivers that originate in Tibet and flow to India, Nepal, Laos, Myanmar and several other countries. These rivers are a lifeline to almost half of the world’s population living in South and South-East Asia. The unused water discharged by China could cause widespread flooding across India’s northern plains.