Welcome again to JJNN for Saturday June 28th, 2008. Today I want to talk about the rainy season, again.
Exactly a month ago I posted about the rainy season. Ever since that post I tried to physically and psychologically prepare myself for the rainy season. Like I said before, I just don't like all the heat mixed with the humidity. But, this year a strange thing happened. In my part of Japan it hasn't been raining. It is still hot and a little humid, but not nearly as bad as it could get.
I am happy with the whole "no rain during the rainy season" thing, but farmers are not. There are places in Niigata and other prefectures that are really feeling the pinch in their rice growing because of the lack of rain water. A lack of rain means that not as much rice can be grown, and any rice that is grown ends up being smaller and less nutritious than normal rice. For the people that make their living off from the soil this is a terrible thing indeed.
That is where this news story comes in. Japan's national meteorological agency and 10 other groups are coming together to perform the first tests of cloud seeding in 40 years.
Let's take a look at cloud seeding before we go on with the news story. Cloud seeding is something people do to try to make it start raining without mother nature giving the go ahead. The person that wants to seed the cloud will fire (or drop from a high altitude plane) a chemical that will cause the moisture that is already present in clouds to turn to ice. This pice of ice is called a nucleus and is used to attract more of the moisture in the air. When the nucleus gets heavy it falls as rain and the cloud seeding is a success.
I bet when you think about cloud seeding you think of silver iodide. That is how people used to seed clouds. The reason silver iodide was used is because it has a chemical structure that is much like ice. It actually induces freezing in the cloud and forms the nucleus that I talked about above.
There are other ways to seed clouds though. The Japanese project uses small pellets of dry ice if the temperature of the air is less than 0c and an absorbent material that contains salt if the temperature is above 0c. In their first experiment they released the absorbent powder out of a helicopter. The changes were all recorded by a small plane that followed the helicopter. You can see a picture of the helicopter below.
The government is thinking of using this to help with the summer droughts in Shikoku for the next 3 years. We shall see what comes of it. I hope that it helps, but I think they probably still have a few bugs to work out of the system. All I really have to say is "Good luck, but don't fly one of those things over my house!"
Any way it is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 人工降雨(じんこうこうう). It is pronounced jinkou-kouu and means artificial rain. That makes it sound like it is mechanical rain, but it just means rain from a seeded cloud.
That's it for today. See you next time at JJNN.