CIA Backs $630,000 Scientific Study on Controlling Global Climate

From Mother Jones—By  and 

The Central Intelligence Agency is funding a scientific study that will investigate whether humans could use geoengineering to alter Earth’s environment and stop climate change. TheNational Academy of Sciences (NAS) will run the 21-month project, which is the first NAS geoengineering study financially supported by an intelligence agency. With the spooks’ money, scientists will study how humans might influence weather patterns, assess the potential dangers of messing with the climate, and investigate possible national security implications of geoengineering attempts.

The total cost of the project is $630,000, which NAS is splitting with the CIA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and NASA. The NAS website says that “the US intelligence community” is funding the project, and William Kearney, a spokesman for NAS, toldMother Jones that phrase refers to the CIA. Edward Price, a spokesman for the CIA, refused to confirm the agency’s role in the study, but said, “It’s natural that on a subject like climate change the Agency would work with scientists to better understand the phenomenon and its implications on national security.” The CIA reportedly closed its research center on climate change and national security last year, after GOP members of Congress argued that the CIA shouldn’t be looking at climate change.

The goal of the CIA-backed NAS study is to conduct a “technical evaluation of a limited number of proposed geoengineering techniques,” according to the NAS website. Scientists will attempt to determine which geoengineering techniques are feasible and try to evaluate the impacts and risks of each (including “national security concerns”). One proposed geoengineering method the study will look at is solar radiation management—a fancy term for pumping particles into the stratosphere to reflect incoming sunlight away from the planet. In theory, solar radiation management could lead to a global cooling trend that might reverse, or at least slow down, global warming. The study will also investigate proposals for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The National Academies has held two previous workshops on geoengineering, but neither was funded by the intelligence community, says Edward Dunlea, the study director for the latest project. The CIA would not say why it had decided to fund the project at this time, but the US government’s apparent interest in altering the climate isn’t new. The first big use of weather modification as a military tactic came during the Vietnam War, when the Air Force engaged in a cloud seeding program to try to create rainfall and turn the Ho Chi Minh Trail into muck, and thereby gain tactical advantage. Between 1962 and 1983, other would-be weather engineers tried to change the behavior of hurricanes using silver iodide. That effort, dubbed Project Stormfury, was spearheaded by the Navy and the Commerce Department. China’s “Weather Modification Office” also controversially seeded clouds in advance of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, hoping to ensure rain would fall in the Beijing suburbs instead of over the Olympic stadiums.

Although previous efforts to manipulate weather and climate have often been met with mockery, many geoengineering proposals “are fundamentally doable, relatively cheap, and do appear to be able to reduce climate risk significantly, but with risks,” explains David Keith, a Harvard researcher and top geoengineering proponent.

But if geoengineering is cheap and “fundamentally doable,” as Keith claims, that suggests foreign countries, or even wealthy individuals, could mess with the climate to advance their own ends. “This whole issue of lone actors: Do we need to be concerned about China acting unilaterally? Is that just idle chatter, or is that something the US government should prepare for?” asks Ken Caldeira, a geoengineering researcher at the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology and a member of the current National Academy of Sciences panel.

At least one individual has already tried modifying the climate. Russ George, the former head of Planktos, a company that works to develop technology to deal with global warming, seeded the Pacific Ocean off western Canada with iron to generate a plankton bloom that, in turn, was supposed to suck up carbon dioxide from the air. George’s effort was widely condemned, but at present there’s little to stop other individuals or countries from trying it or something similar. That’s part of what has the US intelligence community interested.

The CIA’s decision to fund scientific work on geoengineering will no doubt excite conspiracy theorists. The last time the government tried to do cutting-edge research related to the atmosphere—with the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), which aimed to protect satellites from nuclear blasts—people speculated that it might be a death ray, a mind control weapon, or, worst of all…a way to control the weather.


Microwaves, Modification & Harnessing

Microwave a Tornado, Lase a Rainstorm

Grantsville, Utah, stands a rusting, four-foot-tall metal box. The box sits atop a tank of gaseous silver iodide that, when fired up, sends a plume downwind toward the nearby Oquirrh Mountains. Once carried up on the wind, each silver iodide crystal forms a core, or nucleus, around which water droplets collect. Since silver iodide has a crystalline structure similar to that of ice, it allows the tiny water droplets to coalesce until they are big and heavy enough to fall out of the sky, ultimately increasing snowfall between 10 and 15 percent a year. That’s more water for later release across the state’s thirsty desert during spring and baking summer, more water for irrigation, livestock, human consumption, and sports. It means millions of dollars in water-related revenues for the state’s economy every year.

The Utah cloud-seeding effort comes courtesy of North American Weather Consultants, America’s oldest weather modification company, located in an upscale office park in nearby Sandy, Utah. Founded in the 1950s, the group is currently run by two solid-citizen scientists with commercial aims, Don Griffith and Mark Solak, who have spent their careers working in privately funded weather modification efforts around the country and the world.

In Colorado they seeded the Gunnison River drainage, a series of reservoirs and dams in the west of the state. In California they run seeding programs for the Santa Barbara County Water Agency, a group that says the effort may increase rain in target areas up to 20 percent a year.

Full Story on Discover Magazine


Harnessing the Weather

Could new technology help humans eliminate “acts of God”?

by Donovan Webster

From the June 2008 issue; published online June 6, 2008

NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL)

Not far from the Dead Dog Saloon, behind a body shop on the main street of Grantsville, Utah, stands a rusting, four-foot-tall metal box. The box sits atop a tank of gaseous silver iodide that, when fired up, sends a plume downwind toward the nearby Oquirrh Mountains. Once carried up on the wind, each silver iodide crystal forms a core, or nucleus, around which water droplets collect. Since silver iodide has a crystalline structure similar to that of ice, it allows the tiny water droplets to coalesce until they are big and heavy enough to fall out of the sky, ultimately increasing snowfall between 10 and 15 percent a year. That’s more water for later release across the state’s thirsty desert during spring and baking summer, more water for irrigation, livestock, human consumption, and sports. It means millions of dollars in water-related revenues for the state’s economy every year.

The Utah cloud-seeding effort comes courtesy of North American Weather Consultants, America’s oldest weather modification company, located in an upscale office park in nearby Sandy, Utah. Founded in the 1950s, the group is currently run by two solid-citizen scientists with commercial aims, Don Griffith and Mark Solak, who have spent their careers working in privately funded weather modification efforts around the country and the world.

In Colorado they seeded the Gunnison River drainage, a series of reservoirs and dams in the west of the state. In California they run seeding programs for the Santa Barbara County Water Agency, a group that says the effort may increase rain in target areas up to 20 percent a year.

In reality, cloud seeding is pretty low tech: A tank of silver iodide is topped by a burner and surrounded by a perforated-metal wind arrester. The whole contraption is hooked to a tank of propane to provide the flame and warmth that lifts the silver iodide into the atmosphere. 

“We’ve got lots of cloud-seeding units in mountainous areas all around Utah,” Solak says. When wind, temperature, and humidity are just right, the company calls local residents, who are paid a fee to go out and turn on a cloud-seeding unit, sending a plume of silver iodide downwind. Why an array of cloud seeders? Although a single plume cannot change the world, a group of such seeders, each responsible for a small shift in precip­itation, can often tilt the balance locally, driving rainfall or decreasing the intensity of storms.

“In weather modification, the uniniti­ated think you must make huge impacts on the atmosphere to get a desired result,” Griffith says. “But it’s actually the opposite. If we just make tiny modifications to existing conditions, little touches here and there, the changes then cascade upward using the existing weather’s natural actions, and that’s what gets the biggest results.”

While coaxing more rain or snow seems a modest achievement, projects on the drawing board might revolutionize our relationship with the elements and eliminate those tragic, weather-based “acts of God.” Imagine the ability to steer hurricanes offshore or shatter twisters, to prevent drought and heat waves, and to stop that worst of all nightmares—the melting of the polar ice caps and the flooding of coastal cities as the planet warms. The insight from weather modification’s old guard—that tiny changes can engender profound atmospheric shifts—has been embraced by more recent, cutting-edge investigators, those conceiving weather-changing satellites and using physics theories to invent a climate of choice.

“Weather systems are large, and our inputs as humans are so small you’d think we’d have no influence at all,” says Ross N. Hoffman, chief scientist and vice president of research and development at Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER), based in Lexington, Massachusetts. Yet with the help of new, highly nuanced computer models, Hoffman is working to alter weather based on tiny tweaks in the chaotic motion of air. Already he has shown, at least on the computer screen, that small changes in wind and air temperature—in fact, no more than 3 to 5 degrees—could have redirected hurricane Iniki away from landfall in 1992 and reduced the strength ofhurricane Andrew that same year. His colleagues hope to obliterate tornadoes and eliminate the scourge of drought using everything from lasers to tiny, solar-powered satellites orbiting Earth.

Efforts to change the weather seem more important than ever in this age of extremes, from killer hurricanes to furious nor’easters to ravaging floods. In 2007 alone, summer flooding in Great Britain cost that nation nearly $6 billion, while torrential rains in China displaced more than 500,000 people, with losses to property and crops in excess of $1 billion. And anyone considering recent weather has to recall the disastrous 2005 hurricane season, which birthed Katrina, Rita, and Wilma and cost the United States not only 2,280 lives but nearly $140 billion in losses. Three years later, from Biloxi to New Orleans to Houston, that destruction is still being repaired. According to the National Weather Service, the past decade was both the hottest and among the most meteorologically violent since the agency began keeping records.

When you consider that some of the most extreme weather has been driven by humans—that we have already been changing the weather, and in a negative way—the impetus to set things right makes particular sense. Our mechanized, urbanized, industrial society has burned so much fossil fuel that we have overburdened the atmosphere with carbon dioxide, pushing the earth’s elements out of balance. The greenhouse effect may be linked to hurricanes in summer and brutal storms in winter. If we cannot change the weather back, the melting of the ice caps, the flooding of our cities, and the destruction of crops may be next. If we have indeed wrecked the weather, perhaps we can set it right again.

Full Story Here On Discover Magazine

English: Cloud Seeding Process from a plane.

English: Cloud Seeding Process from a plane. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Rain, Rain, Go Away

A superabsorbent polymer reinvigorates an old dream

From the September 2002 issue; published online September 1, 2002

by Jennifer Kahn

One overcast day last July, a small industrial firm loaded a cargo plane with four tons of absorbent polymer powder and took off from the Florida coast heading east. The plane flew until it was over international waters and above a mile-long cloud formation. Skimming the surface of the formation, the pilot dumped the powder, which drifted into the mist below. Minutes later observers in radar stations saw the cloud evaporate and disappear. Far below, a misty gel rained down into the waves and dissolved. In a very small way, the Dyn-O-Mat company may have changed the weather that day. 

Like telepathy research and antiaging experiments, the dream of controlling the weather on a large scale has never quite disappeared. In 1957 a presidential advisory committee warned that weather modification “could become a more important weapon than the atom bomb.” During the Vietnam War, the army mustered nearly 3,000 cloud-seeding missions, dropping silver iodide particles to swell monsoon rains over the Ho Chi Minh trail—all, apparently, to no avail. For the past two decades, researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have tried to alter fronts and weaken hurricanes, also without success.

But failure seems unlikely to vanquish hope when it comes to manipulating the weather. Last year, for example, a San Diego company proposed fighting tornadoes by beaming microwaves at them from space. About the same time, a hurricane researcher from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology advised that coating the oceans with a thin layer of oil might stop the evaporation that powers large storms.

“So far, every experiment showing a statistically significant effect has been discredited,” says Hugh Willoughby, a research meteorologist with the Hurricane Research Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Still, he remains a self-proclaimed “enabler” of weather-modification enthusiasts. “I probably read too many sci-fi books growing up, but I love the idea,” he says. “Imagine being able to herd clouds over cropland or stop hurricanes before they hit land.”

Of course, people alter the weather unintentionally all the time: Just by driving automobiles, they create smog that changes rainfall patterns. But focused tinkering is another matter. Weather systems are chaotic and incalculably complex. Turbulent winds, heated by the sun, bounce off mountains and collide with other systems, each of which has its own spiraling, tumbling momentum. Success itself runs the risk of triggering a chain reaction. Rains in a parched region of Africa, say, might trigger a drought in China. Furthermore, weather systems are so powerful, they can absorb almost anything humans throw at them.

Undaunted, Dyn-O-Mat is forging ahead with a grand experiment—making an entire tropical storm disappear by dumping 300 tons of the company’s patented powder into it. This month, if all goes to plan, two Russian planes will coat a five-mile-long wedge on the slow side of a tropical storm’s eye. Dyn-O-Mat’s president, J. D. Dutton, says the sudden evaporation should disrupt the storm’s momentum, causing it to shear off and unravel.

At Dyn-O-Mat’s Riviera Beach offices, there is little evidence of such bold plans. The conference room is stacked with bilge balls and oil booms that evoke the company’s main business, selling products to control petrochemical spills. But in the small lab here, a lush plant grows out of what looks like a tub of lumpy pink gelatin. This turns out to be Dyn-O-Moist, which helps lawns stay damp without frequent watering. The company also produces Dyn-O-Fire, a nonflammable gel that clings to leaves; Dyn-O-Drought, which stores morning dew for use by arid-land farmers; and other unusual products, including a sipping straw that changes color if a beverage passing through it has been spiked with Rohypnol, the date-rape drug.

The star of the weather show is called Dyn-O-Storm. Grainy and white, it looks like powdered laundry detergent. It’s made from the same cross-linked polyacrylic acids that fill diapers: long, netlike molecules that unfurl in the presence of water. When sodium ions are added to the formula, they neutralize the acids and form a superabsorbent web. Water molecules have a slightly positive charge at one end and a slightly negative charge at the other, so they normally clump together. But in the presence of Dyn-O-Storm, they separate and stick to the charged ions in the polymer’s net. The magnitude of the effect is eerie. Scatter even a few grains of Dyn-O-Storm into a bowl of water and the water congeals instantly into something rubbery and gray. It can then be dissolved in seawater because sodium and calcium ions bond more strongly with the polymer, knocking the water molecules free.

Chief executive officer and inventor Peter Cordani, a former golf course engineer, got the idea for Dyn-O-Storm three years ago when a small amount of another polymer touched his wet hands, which became instantly dry. Cordani spent the next week mixing together various off-the-shelf polymers. Early blends used round grains that ripped right through clouds like BBs. Cordani consulted Willoughby, who suggested making cereal-flake-shaped particles that would flutter down slowly, absorbing maximal water before exiting.

These days Cordani is occupied by threats to the success of the impending test of Dyn-O-Storm on a tropical maelstrom. There is a chance that the storm’s high winds might simply fling away the 300 tons of powder before it can be effective. Worse, the resulting gel-spew could blow back and smack the seeding airplanes. And the powder itself may pose a minor health risk. “I inhaled a bit by accident and had bronchitis for a week,” Willoughby says. “The stuff turns to slime in your lungs.”

Even if Cordani succeeds, he may have trouble proving it. Most storms weaken naturally. Who will know if Dyn-O-Storm works or nature took its course? The same uncertainty haunts Dyn-O-Mat’s original test, says Willoughby: “Sure the cloud disappeared, but thunderheads in Florida typically have a very short life. In 10 minutes, that cloud might have evaporated on its own.” He was initially supportive of the results, but Willoughby has since distanced himself, calling the experiment “unconvincing.”

If Dyn-O-Storm doesn’t prove effective, Cordani will simply move on to some 30 other products his company is developing. One of these—a tea bag filled with an oil-absorbent polymer, called Dyn-O-Trim—promises a different kind of miracle, one aimed at chefs and home cooks. “It takes the fat out of soups and gravies,” Cordani says. That sort of wizardry should not be surprising from a company whose CEO likes to say “The sky’s the limit.”  

Full Story on Discover Magazine

Modifying Hail In Bavaria



The region of the Bavarian Plains, situated at the northern slope of the Alps is frequently affected by hail damage. Therefore, the Bayerischer Landtag (Bavarian State Parliament) decided to start an experiment using silver iodide released from rockets, as well as from ground generators, to obtain more information about possibilities of suppressing hail by seeding hail clouds. Silver iodide seeding possibly may cause hail suppression by adding artificial ice nuclei to an air mass in which natural ice nuclei are very few in number, as is known for tropical air masses in Central Europe. If it were possible to generate a large number of small ice particles instead of a small number of big hailstones, damage could be reduced considerably. But there is still some doubt whether the usual seeding action will get a sufficient number of artificial ice nuclei into sensitive parts of the thunderstorm cloud at the right time.

The region of Rosenheim was chosen for the experimental area due to the special interest in this field shown by the Rosenheim local authorities as well as the farmers’ association. The main part of the Rosenheim district consists of plains with only small hills and a number of minor lakes. The southern part is on the northern slope of the Alps and extends to the border of Austria (Tyrol). The Rosenheim district covers an area of approximately 320 square miles, extending 21 miles from north to south along the Inn River, and 15 miles west to east. Lake Chiemsee forms part of the eastern border. The intention was to suppress hail as much as possible.

Organization of the experiment 

Seventy six rocket posts were installed along the Inn River and manned on a voluntary basis. They are stationed in a triple chain, two series west of the Inn and one on the eastern border with a mean distance of one to two miles from post to post. Some posts are situated where local thunderstorms are especially frequent. Each post has up to ten rockets at its disposal. They are stored according to state regulations for storing explosives. The two men at each post have taken a course in handling explosives and a special examination. The rockets each contain 800 gms of cheddite and 16 gms of AgI. They can attain a maximum height of about 4500 ft above the ground. Since the freezing level in summer over Bavaria is about 10,000 to 12,000 ft, the seeding agent must be transported to its working height by the updraft normally connected with thunderstorms and must be dissipated by turbulence. It is quite possible that the wind distribution between the height of the exploding rocket and the place where seeding must be done to be effective may be unfavorable. This risk cannot be excluded. The rocket posts are alerted normally by radio and in special cases by telephone…

…In addition to the rocket network, a network of silver iodide ground generators was installed. Thirty propane gas generators (eighteen in the first experimental year) dispersing 1 gm of AgI per minute dissolved with Nal in acetone were distributed in a double chain west of the target area. The upwind situation was chosen to give the seeding agent produced near the ground more time to reach its working height by updraft and turbulent mixing with the surrounding air. The ground generator posts are alerted in the same way as the rocket posts but, for the ground generators, the time of operation is announced by broadcast so that, normally, all generators are in action during the same time…

…During the eight year seeding period, damage occurred on 72 per cent of the seeded days, and on 100 per cent during the preseeding period. Looking at the same table for the windward situated control area of Ebersberg, Aibling, Miesbach, Wasserburg, one finds also that in control area A the number of hail damage days during the experimental period from 1958 to 1965 was only 71 per cent compared to 100 per cent during the period from 1950 to 1957. Thus, one could conclude that the eight year period from 1958 to 1965 had less hail damage generally than the period from 1950 to 1957 and therefore no effect of seeding appears to exist.


Modifying Weather In The Colorado River Basin




October 2005 

Tom Ryan, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California 

Technical Reviewers

Joe Busto, Colorado Water Conservation Board,

Vice-Chairman North American Interstate Weather Modification Council

Arlen W. Huggins, Desert Research Institute,

Nevada, Chairman North American Interstate Weather Modification Council

Steven M. Hunter, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Denver

Executive Summary

This paper provides a brief background of weather modification, information on existing programs and current issues, and provides recommendations for the Colorado River Basin States (Basin States) involvement or support of precipitation management through weather modification efforts.

The purpose of winter cloud seeding to increase snowfall in mountainous areas is to increase runoff for hydroelectricity and water supplies for downstream areas. Increases in precipitation can improve soil moisture, stream flows, and reservoir levels. More water storage in reservoirs can allow for increased power generation, irrigation, and municipal and industrial use. Recreation, water quality, salinity reduction, fisheries, forest health, sensitive species, ranching, and tourism can all benefit from additional runoff.

Members of weather modification organizations, public agencies, and private sector companies believe that cloud seeding has reached the point that a well managed program including a proper design component can be implemented to produce cost-effective water resources benefits. More research on the specific cause and effect relationship between cloud seeding and additional water on the ground should be conducted as well. Any proposed operational cloud seeding program should include a strong evaluation component.

It is estimated that cloud seeding six major runoff-producing areas within the Colorado River Basin could produce between 1.1 and 1.8 million acre-feet (maf) in the Upper Basin (approximately 10% of the average annual stream flow) and an additional 830,000 acre-feet in the Lower and adjacent basins. Of the total, it has been estimated that approximately 1.7 maf would be available to reduce deficits and meet new demands.

Although there is wide discussion regarding the effectiveness of weather modification since it began in the 1940s, proponents of ongoing projects believe programs in Utah have resulted in precipitation increases between 7 and 20%, at costs of less that $20 per acre-foot, which compares favorably with traditional water resources projects. The programs currently in operation in Colorado and Utah demonstrate the success of weather modification (WxMod) activities there. Ski areas, water authorities, and agricultural users are the most common project sponsors.

There are several good reasons for the Basin States to continue its research on this topic. One of the most important is the 2000-2004 Colorado River droughts, which is a normal part of the climate of the arid Western United States and Colorado River Basin. Others are a general trend toward reduction in snowpack, increased water demands, as well as the growing concern about reductions in precipitation due to inadvertent anthropogenic modification to weather (air pollution). Factors to Consider in deciding how to proceed are that: new projects take 1-3 years to plan; planning is relatively inexpensive; there is a real need for research and project funding; these projects are very cost-effective, and there are existing programs with data that can be leveraged.

This paper recommends:

  • Further investigation continue as to the availability of WxMod projects in which the Basin States can participate, particularly those focusing on the Upper Basin States of Colorado and Utah;
  • Legislation continue to be monitored, and attempts to influence legislators be considered;
  • An implementation plan be developed with next steps, including a schedule, costs, and deliverables for a feasibility study to increase winter precipitation that would include both operational and evaluation components;
  • The Basin States enlist either the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and/or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as the lead federal agency in the development of a coordinated national research program, and that this program should piggy-back research onto existing and proposed operational programs like Reclamation’s Weather Damage Modification Program;
  • Cost-share with Reclamation in an objective impartial evaluation of existing operational programs, and;
  • For an interim period while the feasibility study is being prepared, expand ongoing operational programs by adding generators and by operating the programs for an expanded period of time each year, including those shown in Table 1.

The additional precipitation can help the Basin States potentially increase water supply in the Colorado River basin, and assist in reducing shortages, or reservoir storage recovery. WxMod should be a standard tool, similar to implementing conservation measures or storing and withdrawing water in groundwater basins for water resources managers to meet demands and assure reliability.


There is an ongoing debate as to the efficacy of cloud seeding as a means of precipitation enhancement. Although much money has been spent over decades in support of cloud seeding to increase precipitation, science has been able to conclusively demonstrate strong evidence of which seeding techniques produce positive effects in only a limited number of weather situations. In the over half-century since cloud seeding demonstrations began, substantial progress has been made in understanding the natural processes of weather. Some voice concern that the scientific challenges of proving seeding effects have been found to be significantly more formidable and complex than initially perceived and proof is elusive (National Research Council (NRC), 2003).

However, many others believe that despite the difficulty in objectively quantifying the absolute values of seeding effects, it has been established that certain aspects of the weather, specifically cloud microphysical and precipitation processes, can be intentionally modified with beneficial effects and without detrimental environmental effects. The large body of positive indications reported by many (Weather Modification Association (WMA), 2004) references in this paper, as well as a multitude of analyses in the literature constitute a collective positive signal. The overarching premise of this paper is that cloud seeding does work, but both sides of the argument are provided here for consideration by decision makers.

There are several reasons why WxMod has been pursued: fog and stratus dissipation; hurricane strength reduction; lightning reduction, hail suppression, and precipitation augmentation. This document focuses on the use of winter orographic WxMod for precipitation enhancement to augment water supply.


The first laboratory and field experiments by Vince Sharer, Irving Langmuir, and BernardVonnegut began in the mid-1940s and were known as the “Cold Box” experiments. There was much enthusiasm and the positive results from cloud seeding and the potential for producing rain were widely distributed.

The combination of excited scientists, an interested media, and a receptive populous resulted in a worldwide commercial industry focused on cloud seeding, and an era of great interest among scientific organizations and government. By 1951, weather modification programs were operating in about 30 countries.

Wild claims of effectiveness led to differences in opinion as to the economic benefits of cloud seeding and Congress held hearings on the matter between 1951 and 1953. It was learned that millions of dollars were being spent annually by farmers, utilities, ranchers and other users on weather modification activities covering approximately 10 percent of the nation’s area. As a result, the Advisory Committee on Weather Control was established by an Act of Congress of August 13, 1953.

Users were so interested in results that, for commercial operators there was no room for randomization or scientific method. As a result, rigorous proof of a seeding effect in the commercial cloud-seeding projects was not pursued. Even today, the words “weather modification” and “cloud seeding” are met with some skepticism.

In the late 1950s, some projects were developed with support of governmental agencies and although the experiments (e.g., the Missouri Project, Whitetop) ran for several seasons, the results were mixed. None of the experiments provided incontrovertible evidence that seeding was effective. Even in 1964 after many more projects were completed, the National Research Council (NRC) concluded that precipitation from orographic storms would not be increased significantly by seeding and that eventually relevant processes could be understood and usefully applied. “The timescale required for success may be measured in decades” (NRC, 1964). An NRC report in 1966 presented results with an “indication of positive effect.” In general, the authors of the time found that cloud seeding experiments had not yet provided the evidence required to establish scientific validity, though the prospects were promising and worth pursuing.

One of the references for this paper is Critical Issues in Weather Modification Research prepared by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences in 2003 (NRC Report). To paraphrase the 2003 report, the Committee on the Status of and Future Directions in U.S. Weather Modification Research and Operations finds little reason to differ from the findings of the 1964 and 1966 studies. This is due in part to the lack of concerted research in weather modification. In the three decades since the last NRC report there have been improvements in the understanding of cloud processes and significant development in tools and techniques, including remote sensing and computing. These improvements, plus new methods for physically evaluating the impacts of cloud seeding, mandate a fresh look at the status and potential of weather modification.

There are, however, others that do not subscribe to this point of view. List (2005) reviews the NRC Report and finds it flawed in several ways. He submits that the level of accuracy of experiments that WxMod researchers face is higher than that of all other meteorology and atmospheric physics disciplines, which he calls a double standard. Other criticisms of the NRC Report include: the use of old, outdated and misleading criteria; lack of specific criticisms of the science; no discussion of the role of statistics; and the lack of identifying the progress and achievements made in recent decades. The Weather Modification Association takes issue with the NRC Report as well, and its perspective is presented in the section below under Policy Statements.

Meanwhile, numerous short and long-term operational seeding programs have been ongoing with program proponents claiming meaningful, measurable results. These operations programs are described in Section II below.


What follows is a brief description of the major authorities that have been enacted for this subject matter. There are dozens more for the individual states, but this provides an overview of how this subject has been of interest to Congress for decades.

The National Weather Modification Act of 1976. The National Weather Modification Act of 1976 (Public Law 94-490), directed the Secretary of Commerce to develop a comprehensive and coordinated national policy on weather modification and recommended a national weather modification research and development program. The motivation for this legislation was a severe drought in Kansas and annual damage to property and crops caused by severe weather. It was recognized that all the ongoing weather modification activities were not realizing their potential to mitigate such effects. The Secretary of Commerce was directed to prepare a study on the state of scientific knowledge of the atmospheric processes, research needs, economic studies, and funding issues. The study was to be completed in one year and $1 million was appropriated to carry it out. The author could not find a reference to this report being completed.

Colorado River Basin Proiect Act of 1968. The Colorado River Basin Project Act of 1968 (Public Law 90-537) directed the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) in Section 102(a) “… to provide a program for the further comprehensive development of the water resources of the Colorado River Basin and for the provision of additional and adequate water supplies for use in the Upper as well as the Lower Colorado River Basin.” Under
Title II, the Secretary is authorized to prepare an augmentation plan to meet the water requirements of new projects, existing projects, current water allotments, and the 1944 Water Treaty with Mexico. Section 202 of Public Law 90-537 recognizes a national obligation to annually provide
1.5 million acre-feet of water, together with any associated losses of water from the Colorado River, to meet the requirements of the Mexican Water Treaty. Section 202 also states that “The Congress declares that the satisfaction of the requirements of the Mexican Water Treaty from the Colorado River constitutes a national obligation which shall be the first obligation of any water augmentation project planned pursuant to
Section 201 of this Act and authorized by the Congress.”

Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act of 1974. The Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-320) authorized and directed the Secretary to proceed with a program of works of improvement for the enhancement and protection of the quality of water in the Colorado River. Section 101(c) states that replacement of the reject stream from the Yuma desalting plant and of bypassed Wellton-Mohawk drainage water is “recognized as a national obligation as provided in Section 202 of the Colorado River Basin Project Act.” As stated in Section 202, augmented streamflows resulting from cloud seeding would result in decreased salinity concentrations in the Colorado River Basin, and could provide a source of replacement for the Yuma desalting plant reject stream.

Reclamation States Emergency Drought Relief Act of 1991. The Reclamation States Emergency Drought Relief Act of 1991 (Public Law 102-250) authorized the Secretary “to conduct a Precipitation Management Technology Transfer Program to help alleviate problems caused by precipitation variability and droughts in the West, as part of a balanced long-term water resources development and management program.” Section 206(b) states that “in consultation with State, Tribal, and local water, hydropower, water quality and in stream flow interests, areas shall be selected for conducting field studies… to validate and quantify the potential for appropriate precipitation management technology to augment stream flows.” Upon successful completion of such a program, validated technologies will be “transferred to nonFederal [sic] interests for operational implementation.” The 1991 Act was the authorizing legislation for the Weather Damage Modification Program, described in a subsequent section.

Weather Modification Research and Technology Transfer Authorization Act (S. 517) K.B. Hutchison, (R-Texas). On March 3, 2005, Senator Hutchinson re-introduced a bill that is identical to the weather modification bill she introduced in the last Congress. The Act would develop and implement a comprehensive and coordinated national weather modification policy and a national cooperative Federal and State program of weather modification research and development. The work would be accomplished through the Department of Commerce Weather Modification and Advisory Research Board. The duties include promotion of research and development, providing financial assistance, and biennial reporting. The legislation would authorize $10 million for 10 fiscal years. There has been no movement on the bill since its introduction, and her staff is working to get at least some of the provisions of this bill incorporated into the Senate’s version of a NOAA authorization bill, which is again making its way through the legislative process. A copy of the bill may be found in Appendix A.

Weather Modification Research and Technology Transfer Authorization Act of 2005 (HR. 2995). On June 20, 2005, Rep. Udall (D-Colorado) introduced this companion bill to S. 517, which also seeks to develop and implement a comprehensive and coordinated national weather modification policy and a national cooperative Federal and State program of weather modification research and development. The House and Senate bills are nearly identical.

The Primary Winter Cloud and Precipitation Process

Because there is strong evidence that wintertime seeding for snowpack augmentation works and because the high mountains in the Colorado River Basin provide excellent seeding targets, only winter seeding will be addressed here. In general terms, winter cloud seeding attempts to mimic natural snow production processes in clouds that are inefficient in producing ice crystals and snowfall. During winter storms, moist air is forced to ascend over mountain ranges by prevailing winds (orographic ascent). This upward movement causes the air to cool. The rising and cooling of moist air results in water vapor condensing into droplets to form a cloud. The rate of production of liquid water is determined by the air’s temperature, humidity, and upward motion. The tiny cloud water droplets have insignificant fall speeds so they are suspended in the airstream. If not converted to snowflakes while continuing to rise over the mountain, the droplets quickly evaporate because of downward motion on the lee side of the mountain range.

Figure 1 is a generalized depiction of the primary process.

Cloud droplets often remain in the liquid state at temperatures lower than 32 degrees Fahrenheit because of a scarcity of effective ice forming nuclei in the atmosphere. These droplets are called supercooled liquid water (SLW). When effective ice forming nuclei are present, ice crystals form. After formation, the crystals grow from available water vapor. As they fall they collide with SLW droplets that freeze onto them, creating larger crystals. The process continues as the larger crystal falls faster and grows larger into a snowflake. This process is most effective in deep clouds and must occur before reaching the crest of the mountain range. In situations where natural ice nuclei are too scarce to efficiently convert the supercooled liquid water into snow, seeding can assist the conversion process. There is no doubt that the most commonly used agent, silver iodide (AgI), released into sufficiently cold SLW clouds, will produce multitudes of embryonic ice particles. The same result is achieved when liquid propane is expanded into even slightly super-cooled liquid clouds. The challenge is to create seeding-induced ice particles at such locations that their subsequent trajectories will be within SLW clouds for a sufficient time(distance) to permit growth to precipitation sizes (WMA, 1999).

Technical advances have increased the capability to augment precipitation in higher temperature and shallower orographic cloud systems. Numerical modeling has improved understanding of atmospheric transport mechanisms. Improvements in computer, radar, satellite, and communications systems have resulted in better assessments of cloud seeding potential and more effective dispersion of seeding agents from properly positioned cloud nuclei generators. Sensors such as radiometers that continuously monitor SLW amounts greatly improve the chances of successful seeding…

Read Full Report from NAWMC Here

Weather Modification & Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison

The bill will develop a comprehensive and coordinated national weather modification policy through federal and state research and development programs. It will also establish a Weather Modification Advisory and Research Board within the U.S. Department of Commerce to promote and expand the practical knowledge of weather modification. Further, it recognizes the significance of state and federal collaboration in this endeavor.”  ~Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. “Introduction of S. 2170, the Weather Modification Research and Technology Transfer Authorization Act,” Weather Modification Association. March 4, 2004.~

Flag of the NOAA Commissioned Corps

Flag of the NOAA Commissioned Corps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



WASHINGTON, D.C.   20502

December 13, 2005

The Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchison

United States Senator

284 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, DC  20510

Dear Senator Hutchison:

This letter is in response to S. 517, the  “Weather Modification Research and Development Policy Authorization Act of 2005,”reported out by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on November 17, 2005 (Senate Report No. 109-202).  While the Administration recognizes the Committee’s interest in weather modification research and development, there is a host of issues — including liability, foreign policy, and national security concerns — that arose in the past and should be adequately considered before the U.S. Government undertakes the coordinated national research program this legislation would require.

The Administration respectfully requests that you defer further consideration of the bill pending the outcome of an inter-agency discussion of these issues that the Office of Science and

Technology Policy (OSTP) would coordinate – with the Department of Justice on legal issues, with the Department of State on foreign policy implications, with the Departments of Defense and State on national security implications, and with pertinent research agencies to consider the reasons the U.S. Government previously halted its work in this area.  At the conclusion of this review, the Administration would report back to you on the results of these discussions so you are fully apprised of all possible issues associated with authorizing a new Federal program on this topic.

Specifically, the Administration believes concerns in the following areas must be better understood:

Local Political & Legal Ramifications

  • Because small scale weather modification (e.g., cloud seeding) may promote rain in one area to the detriment of another, weather modification could result in inter-state (including Indian Tribes) litigation or private citizen litigation against the modification programs.
  • The legal and liability issues pertaining to weather modification, and the potential adverse consequences on life, property, and water resource availability resulting from weather modification activities, must be considered fully before the U.S. Government could take responsibility for this new research program.

International and Foreign Policy Implications

  • Small and large scale (e.g., hurricane) weather modification efforts could benefit the
  • United States to the detriment of other countries (such as Canada or Mexico).
  • Given global weather patterns, whether one country “owns” its weather so as to assert
  • intra-border control with extra-border consequences, must be considered under present international conventions.
  • The manner in which such a program could benefit or harm the present U.S. positions
  • on foreign policy matters, such as global warming/climate change, should also be considered.
  • National Security Implications
  • The U.S. Government’s previous weather modification programs were part of our
  • Cold War history; restarting them today could promote (possibly hostile) foreign responses.
  • In 1978, the United States became a party to an international treaty banning the use of weather modification for hostile purposes.  While modification for peaceful purposes is allowed, whether well-intentioned programs could be considered “hostile” and perceived to violate this ban should be considered.

Research Issues

  • The Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s

(NOAA) primary atmospheric and meteorological research focus is on improving weather forecasting, which has proven to save lives and property.  NOAA abandoned weather modification activities some time ago in favor of other research areas that more directly relate to the agency’s core mission and responsibilities.

  • Redirecting funding to focus on weather modification can shift funds away from other important programs such as research to improve weather forecasting capabilities for severe weather events and research to better understand climate variability and change.

In addition to discussing these concerns on an interagency basis, and in recognition of your interest in this area, OSTP would be willing to charter a study to address the above issues.  This study would be conducted by the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI), a federally chartered research and development center that provides objective, technical advice to OSTP.

The study would address the history and current status of weather modification research.  Such a study will help us understand the technical position of this field of science, the significance of the issues discussed above, and the field’s historical context.

The Administration requests that you not move forward with your legislative proposal until a better understanding can be developed of the full range of possible implications.

Thank you for your consideration.


John H. Marburger, III


cc: The Honorable Ted Stevens


Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye


Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

Official Summary

12/8/2005–Reported to Senate, amended. (There is 1 other summary)
Weather Modification Research and Development Policy Authorization Act of 2005 –

(Sec. 4)

Directs the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to establish a Weather Modification Subcommittee to coordinate a national research program on weather modification. Requires the Subcommittee to include representatives from:
(1) the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA);
(2) the National Science Foundation (NSF); and
(3) the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Provides for a representative from NOAA and a representative from NSF to serve together as co-chairs of such Subcommittee.
Requires the Director to develop and submit a plan for coordinated federal activities under the program, which shall:
(1) for a ten-year period, establish the goals and priorities for federal research that most effectively advances scientific understanding of weather modification;
(2) describe specific activities required to achieve such goals and priorities, including funding of competitive research grants, training and support for scientists, and participation in international research efforts;
(3) identify and address, as appropriate, relevant programs and activities of the federal agencies and departments that would contribute to the program;
(4) consider and use, as appropriate, reports and studies conducted by federal agencies and departments, and other expert scientific bodies, including the National Research Council report on Critical Issues in Weather Modification Research;
(5) make recommendations for the coordination of program activities with weather modification activities of other national and international organizations;
(6) incorporate recommendations from the Weather Modification Research Advisory Board; and
(7) estimate federal funding for research activities to be conducted under the program. Specifies activities related to weather modification that may be included under the program, including:
(1) interdisciplinary research and coordination of research and activities to improve understanding of processes relating to weather modification, including cloud modeling, cloud seeding, improving forecast and decision-making technologies, related severe weather research, and potential adverse affects of weather modification;
(2) development, through partnerships among federal agencies, states, and academic institutions, of new technologies and approaches for weather modification; and
(3) scholarships and educational opportunities that encourage an interdisciplinary approach to weather modification. Requires the Director to prepare and submit to the President and Congress annual reports on the activities conducted pursuant to this Act respecting the Weather Modification Subcommittee, including:
(1) a summary of the achievements of federal weather modification research;
(2) an analysis of the progress made toward achieving the goals and objectives of the plan;
(3) a copy or summary of the plan and any changes made to it;
(4) a summary of agency budgets for weather modification activities;
(5) any recommendations regarding additional action or legislation that may be required to assist in achieving the purposes of this Act;
(6) a description of the relationship between research conducted on weather modification and research conducted pursuant to the Global Change Research Act of 1990, as well as research on weather forecasting and prediction; and
(7) a description of any potential adverse consequences on life, property, or water resource availability from weather modification efforts, and any suggested means of mitigating or reducing such consequences if such efforts are undertaken.

(Sec. 5)

Establishes in the Office of Science and Technology Policy the Weather Modification Research Advisory Board to:
(1) make recommendations to the Weather Modification Subcommittee on matters related to weather modification; and
(2) advise such Subcommittee on the research and development, studies, and investigations with respect to potential uses of technologies and observation systems for weather modification research and assessments and evaluations of the efficacy of weather modification, both purposeful, (including cloud-seeding operations) and inadvertent (including downwind effects and anthropogenic effects).

(Sec. 6)

Instructs U.S. departments and agencies and any other public or private agencies and institutions that receive research funds from the United States related to weather modification to give full support and cooperation to the Weather Modification Subcommittee.

Is The USA Bullying Other Nations Into Geoengineering/Chemtrail

According to a cable released by Wikileaks, the former United States ambassador to France recommended “moving to retaliation” against France in late 2007 to fight a French ban on Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) corn. Former Ambassador Craig Stapleton (now co-owner of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team), who was concerned about France’s decision to suspend cultivation of Monsanto’s MON-810 corn, wrote the following to diplomatic colleagues:  “Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits.”

In late October, 2010, many chemtrail/geoenginnering activists applauded the announcement of a UN ban on Geoengineering.  More than 190 nations agreed to ban geoengineering under a United Nations treaty to protect the diversity of life on Earth. The ban stipulated that “no climate-related geoengineering activities that may affect biodiversity take place, until there is an adequate scientific basis on which to justify such activities and appropriate consideration of the associated risks for the environment and biodiversity and associated social, economic and cultural impacts.”

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