A giant UAV named Wing Loong-2H has been launched by China to combat record drought by cloud-seeding, which means releasing silver iodide flame bars to produce artificial rain.
Officials in the southwestern province of Sichuan have deployed two enormous cloud-seeding drones in the hopes of reversing the dire situation that is currently affecting hydropower production as China’s water supply rapidly deteriorates to catastrophic levels, which could have profound effects on the global food, energy, and materials markets.
During their four-hour flights, the Wing Loong-2H UAVs release silver iodide flame bars to produce “artificial rain.”
The move, which comes as almost half of the nation is experiencing a record heatwave, has impacted Sichuan province’s ability to send hydropower to cities like Jiangsu and Shanghi, located more than 1,000 miles away, according to Insider.
To improve the situation, the two drones deployed on Thursday will eventually cover an area in Sichuan spanning 2,317 square miles, according to state-owned CCTV. The cloud seeding operation will be carried out until Monday.
Communist Party-owned People’s Daily also reported the news.
According to Caixin news, hydropower plants in Sichuan have been forced to run at less than 50% of their usual capacity since the beginning of the month. This has caused power outages throughout the province and forced businesses like Apple supplier Foxconn and Toyota to halt operations.
When subsurface aquifers collapse due to low groundwater levels, it can result in a phenomena known as land subsidence that can cause the ground to collapse across wide areas, perhaps rendering the aquifer unusable in the future.
Additionally, the drought has damaged crops and jeopardised the fall harvest, pushing China to compete for exports in a market that is already overheated. 60% of China’s wheat, 45% of its corn, 35% of its cotton, and 64% of its peanuts come from the at-risk North China Plain, where, for example, their annual production of wheat, at more than 80 million tonnes, is comparable to Russia’s annual output, while their annual production of corn, at 125 million tonnes, is almost three times that of the Ukraine before the war.
Water is being pumped to farms faster than nature can replenish it in order to sustain these crops. According to satellite data, Northern China lost as much groundwater between 2003 and 2010 as Beijing uses per year, leaving farmers scrambling to find other supplies.
“In order to sustain these harvests, water is being pumped to farms faster than nature can replenish it.” According to satellite data, Northern China lost as much groundwater between 2003 and 2010 as Beijing consumes per year, leaving farmers scrambling to find other sources.
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