A Rain Un-maker

Popular Science - - FEATURES - MHH

Se­vere and con­tin­u­ous rain­fall is not only de­press­ing, but it also can cre­ate crop-killing floods, sweep away homes, and de­stroy in­fra­struc­ture. To curb the del­uge in hard-hit lo­cales, re­searchers are fir­ing lasers into clouds—both nat­u­ral and lab-sim­u­lated ones—to stop the drops. Physi­cists have found that as lasers ion­ize air inside the clouds, the tiny nu­cle­ation sites where wa­ter forms (around dust and bac­te­ria) be­come mois­ture mag­nets. As more sites at­tract more mois­ture, they com­pete with each other. Wa­ter droplets need mass to fall, so they take much longer to be­come fully grown and do that dance. While clouds still might rain, at least it won’t be un­til af­ter your pa­rade.

Far-Out Plans for Tam­ing Our Weather

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