Project aims to di­vert wa­ter through the sky

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By ZHENG JINRAN zhengjin­ran @chi­

Who says you can’t do any­thing about the weather?

Ini­tial re­search has be­gun on a way to mod­ify weather pat­terns to di­vert mas­sive amounts of wa­ter through the sky from a place where it’s abun­dantto an­other that’s dry.

Sci­en­tists are plan­ning to use weather mod­i­fi­ca­tion tech­niques to di­vert wa­ter va­por through the sky, and the ini­tial re­searches of the project have started, ac­cord­ing to the Xin­huaNews Agency.

The Tianhe Project (the name means “sky river”) aims to guide rich wa­ter va­por that’s in the air above the Yangtze River Basin north­ward to the Yel­low River basin, where it would be­come rain­fall, said Wang Guangqian, pres­i­dent of Qing­hai Univer­sity and an aca­demi­cian at the Chi­nese Acad­emy of Sciences.

In the­ory, the project could even­tu­ally di­vert 5 bil­lion


aca­demi­cian at the Chi­nese Acad­emy of Sciences cu­bic me­ters of wa­ter an­nu­ally across re­gions— anamount equiv­a­lent to 350 Hangzhou West Lakes — to al­le­vi­ate wa­ter short­ages in the Yel­low River Basin and other in­land rivers, Wang said.

Wang has been lead­ing a re­search team of many top sci­en­tists look­ing into the un­der­ly­ing prin­ci­ples for years, in­clud­ing Wei Ji­ahua, deputy head ofWater Re­sources and Elec­tri­cal En­gi­neer­ing at Qing­hai Univer­sity.

“By the end of June 2017, we ex­pect to have made some progress to­ward a cer­tain level of ca­pac­ity to con­duct tests,” said Wei, who is also a wa­ter re­sources re­searcher at Ts­inghua Univer­sity.

Wei said the team has con­ducted some ini­tial ex­per­i­ments us­ing satel­lites and ground sta­tions to mon­i­tor re­sults, and it will con­tinue to deepen its work with more in­sti­tutes.

Cur­rent re­search has found sta­ble and or­derly pas­sage­ways that can trans­port­wa­ter va­por at the bound­ary of the tro­po­sphere. These pas­sages could be called tianhe, or sky rivers.

Fol­low­ing ba­sic phys­i­cal laws to trans­form liq­uid wa­ter on the land to va­por in the air, and then learn­ing howto trans­port it ac­cu­rately, the sci­en­tists be­lieve they can use rock­ets to trig­ger rain­fall.

The con­cept of the sky cor­ri­dor will max­i­mize the eco­log­i­cal ef­fects of the Qing­haiTi­bet Plateau, boost­ing the eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment for the whole coun­try, es­pe­cially in the north­ern ar­eas, said Bao Weimin, an aca­demi­cian at the Chi­nese Acad­emy of Sciences.

“The project has wide and promis­ing prospects for ap­pli­ca­tions,” Bao said.

It’s not the first time that schol­ars have con­sid­ered the fea­si­bil­ity of de­liv­er­ing at­mo­spheric wa­ter re­sources to drought-stricken re­gions. Dis­cus­sions have been un­der­way at var­i­ous lev­els for decades.

Around 2000, a plan emerged to shift pre­cip­i­ta­tion from the Yar­lung Zangbo River area to China’s dry north­ern re­gion.

But schol­ars never got on board with the con­cept be­cause of the prob­lem of com­plex and vari­able weather con­di­tions, along with ge­o­log­i­cal in­flu­ences.

For ex­am­ple, in 2007, Gao Dengyi, a re­searcher at the In­sti­tute of At­mos­phere Physics un­der the sci­ence acad­emy, con­cluded the idea wasn’t fea­si­ble at the time.

The project has wide and promis­ing prospects for ap­pli­ca­tions.”

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