A few month ago, this story came out…. video update here:
Now, June 2014, we see another story appear in the main stream media regarding Drones and Weather Modification.
Now being reported as experiments being done at SIX sites.. one of which is in Nevada.
The other 5 sites are: New York, Virginia, Texas, Alaska, and North Dakota.
Thanks to Ginger Wagner for sharing this story below.
“Cloud seeding may be the next frontier for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), more commonly known as drones, with potential global implications.
The state of Nevada was one of six selected test sites by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in December 2013. One of the state’s focuses is how UAS can make cloud seeding an easier, more economical process.
Cloud seeding is the attempt to modify the amount of precipitation from clouds, done mostly in an attempt to alleviate drought by creating precipitation. Presently it is done by launching silver iodide into the clouds from the ground or by flying over top of the clouds and dropping the chemicals into the cloud formations.
There is still necessary research to be done before cloud seeding can be proven as an effective tool according to AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Jesse Ferrell.
“It’s hard to prove if it works or not because we don’t know what would happen if we hadn’t seeded,” he said. Still, he sees how drones could assist the technology once more concrete evidence is gathered.
Cloud seeding is a more common practice internationally than within the United States. China is known to use the technique frequently. The Nevada government is hoping to break into the global weather modification market by working with this new technology.
Director of Weather Modification Activities at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada, Jeff Tilley said that using drones for cloud seeding will offer a more cost-effective alternative to the controversial process.
Ground-based cloud seeding and manned airborne aircraft seeding are the two procedures currently used. While ground-based is the more common approach, it does not provide as much reach as the more expensive airborne. UAS could bridge the gap between the two and offer an alternative that is inexpensive, yet covers more area.
Fuel is one of the factors that drives up the price of airborne seeding and Tilley sees that as the area where the UAS could provide the most difference.
“You can very quickly go through a budget for a year’s supply of fuel during one storm if you’re not careful,” he said. By using smaller, lighter drones, which weigh less than a typical seeding aircraft, the fuel cost difference would be substantial.
“Fuel is expensive, pilots are expensive and often in a storm you have to go up and down multiple trips,” he said.
Using drones, especially in areas with mountainous terrain, could be a safer way to reach the clouds that sit close to the terrain itself. Manned aircraft cannot presently reach such clouds due to FAA regulations on the proximity of aircraft and terrain.
“The smaller size of the drones, and the fact they are not manned, provides potential opportunities for drones to fly below cloud base and seed there as well as at cloud top,” said Tilley.
The process of the seeding itself will not drastically change, Tilley explained. Some changes will have to be made to the size of the flares due to the compact size of the drone versus a manned aircraft.
In order to measure the effectiveness of cloud seeding, they hope to use multiple aircrafts to gather simultaneous measurements.”
More on the five other locations doing the approved drone testing:
“Griffiss International Airport in Rome, NY, will begin flight testing soon after. The New York research center is two-and-a-half months ahead of schedule, the Albany Business Review reports. According to an FAA press release, “Griffiss International plans to work on developing test and evaluation as well as verification and validation processes under FAA safety oversight. The applicant also plans to focus its research on sense and avoid capabilities for UAS and its sites will aid in researching the complexities of integrating UAS into the congested, northeast airspace.”
The four other sites are run by the University of Alaska, which will develop safety standards for UAS operations; the state of Nevada, which will focus on drone operator standards and certification; Texas A&M University’s Corpus Christi campus, which will develop system safety requirements and procedures for airworthiness testing; and Virginia Tech University, which will conduct failure mode testing and evaluate operational and technical risk areas.
The objective of the six sites is to help integrate commercial and research drones into national airspace, which currently only allows for military and law enforcement drones, Fierce Government reports. In 2012, Congress passes a law requiring the FAA develop operational guidelines to integrate UAS into national airspace by the end of 2015.
How does cloud seeding work?