An explanation in simple layman's terms to explore how artificial rain is made in the desert.
Rain is different for everyone. It is a poem for poets, a lullaby for dreamers, a nightmare for daily wage earners or 'no crop or more crop' for farmers. It is fearful for some and fun for others. It might be a slow drive with a soothing melody for you, but for someone like my mother-in-law, it is muddy, dingy or about not drying clothes well.
For Keralites, it was parippu vada and kattan Chaya (dal fry & black tea) then, but deluge now. As a kid, I long awaited to witness the four seasons that my teacher taught me. But Kerala has only two seasons, rainy and not rainy.
Being from the land that receives one of the highest rainfall, i.e., more than 2800 mm2 per year and later transported to a desert with less than 130 mm2 per year, which Kerala receives on an average day, interpretation has evolved a long way.
For Desert, Rain is hope.?
Water Cycle, we would all have crammed it up well for the exam; the sun, ocean, evaporation, condensation and precipitation. I know you are all thinking about the diagram now. But where is the human intervention here? We are meddlers and egoists determined to play a pivotal role in every natural process. So we, the desert dwellers, decided to protest against this prejudice and seize our rightful claim, a better share of rain, through cloud seeding.
Yeah, we decided to obtrude after condensation, i.e., to meddle with clouds.
So, what is a cloud?
"An aerosol consisting of a visible mass of miniature liquid droplets, frozen crystals, or other particles suspended in the atmosphere of a planetary body or similar space……"
Wikipedia goes on!
But it is that curious water droplet that went up to the sky, got insecure at a new place, tried befriending dust or any other senior, formed an ice nucleus and they all decided to stay united as a cloud!
So when they turn heavier, they fall as RAIN! But every ice nucleus isn’t curious to return. Except for 40%, the rest, the apathetic and hesitant fellows choose to stay. So through cloud seeding, we instigate a few more to come down and bless us.
So hundreds of meteorologists are on a constant vigil to spot a ‘potential cloud’, generally cumulus clouds, that look like cauliflower in a vertical shape. Once we pinpoint one, we send a team of hygroscopic flares, i.e. KCL, NaCl, Magnesium etc... On a flight to mediate the matter.
Yeah, you would have spotted NaCl, common salt among them. The correlation between Salt & Water retention, every weight loss enthusiast surely knows this. As Poori-inspired Mangalyan says to Vidya Balan in the movie Mission Mangal, Cloud seeding could be a brainchild of someone trying to shed some pounds.
So the salts will lead to “weight gain” for clouds and will fall as rain.
But sometimes, these clouds are upset and turn hysterical and choose to precipitate elsewhere or become defiant and choose not to rain.
The conclave then turns complex!
Because most parts of this country are at sea level or below sea level. If the rain intended for relatively higher regions chose to fall on lower regions, it floods!
So it is highly speculative like gambling.
Whether it is bravery or necessity that drives the desert-dwellers to make this choice is up for debate, but this risky proposition is generally undertaken and there is often a downpour in the modern-day desert.
Image (c) istock.com