'Rain dance' plan to beat heat

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 August, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 August, 2004, 12:00am

Shanghai is preparing to make rain, perhaps as early as this week, in the hope that it will lower temperatures and reduce demand for electricity.

But experts have warned against having unreasonable expectations over the experiment.

Last week the local government gave approval to seed the clouds, and aircraft, equipment and personnel are now awaiting the order once the weather conditions turn favourable, media reports said yesterday.

Weather officials declined to comment amid the secrecy surrounding the experiment. The ideal weather conditions to create man-made rain include thick clouds at a height of 6 to 8km. Light aircraft will fly in a 50km radius around the city at an altitude of 4,500 to 5,000 metres to seed the clouds.

Temperatures in Shanghai have reached at least 35 degrees Celsius for the past 20 days, straining the power grid. Unfortunately, high temperatures are not ideal for creating rain, experts say.

The city has already forced thousands of firms to alter working hours or give employees holidays to conserve energy. Officials said they wanted to make every effort to cut demand for power, including the hi-tech 'rain dance'.

But experts warned that the scheme might not yield satisfactory results. 'Domestically and abroad, there are few successful experiments for reference, so we should not have inflated hopes for human-induced lowering of temperatures,' a weather expert said.

Some residents have said that they are worried about the implications of what amounts to tampering with nature.

'This violates the rules of nature. The rain will cause inconvenience,' strssed Cao Ye , an engineer at a software company.