Queensland Cloud Seeding Project Underway

Published Thursday, 24 January, 2008 at 01:15 PM

Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation
The Honourable Andrew McNamara

An innovative scientific project aimed at increasing rainfall throughout south-east Queensland catchments by injecting clouds with rainmaking particles has commenced.

Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation, Andrew McNamara, said the Queensland Government is investing $7.6 million over four years in the cloud seeding research project.

“Cloud seeding aims to enhance the amount of rain falling from rain-bearing clouds,” Mr McNamara said.

“The first stage of the project - an intensive data collection research component to improve the knowledge of cloud science in South-east Queensland, as well as a trial seeding component – commenced this week.

“Cloud seeding is a technique that aims to add particles such as salt and silver iodide particles to clouds to enhance condensation and droplet and ice crystal formation.

“Successful cloud seeding won’t solve South-east Queensland’s water crisis on its own, but would be part of an overall package of initiatives including recycling, more efficient water use, desalination and new storage facilities.

“This project will focus on the Wivenhoe and Somerset dam catchments.

“Even a modest increase in rainfall over catchments has the potential to assist inflows to water storages and land uses in catchments to better address the impacts of protracted dry periods.

“It should be stressed that cloud seeding is not a mechanism for breaking droughts.

“Cloud seeding can change individual clouds or series of clouds but cannot change background weather and climate patterns.

“Seeding needs suitable clouds and the right conditions to be successful.

“Successes elsewhere in the world can’t be automatically translated to Queensland because of regional climate, cloud characteristics and topographic differences and the complexities of cloud seeding.

“Results of the trial will determine whether cloud seeding is suitable for use in South-east Queensland.

The project is being overseen by a Scientific Advisory Group, chaired by Professor Roger Stone from the University of Southern Queensland, to provide expertise and technical guidance for the project.

Mr McNamara said the recent weather patterns experienced in SEQ were quite suitable conditions for cloud seeding.

“National and international experience has shown cloud seeding to be most effective in average to above average seasons rather than drought years,” he said.

“Certainly the current La Nina is likely to afford more opportunities to seed than the previous El Nino year.”

The project is being managed by the Queensland Climate Change Centre of Excellence within the Environmental Protection Agency, working closely with the Bureau of Meteorology which is providing radar technology and weather pattern expertise.

Further information is available at: www.climatechange.qld.gov.au

Media contact: Peter McCarthy 3336 8004