IITM to study difference in natural, artificial rains

Manasi Saraf Joshi
Thursday, 5 July 2018

The project, led by woman scientist Thara Prabhakarn, will be the first detailed scientific study undertaken by IITM which comes under the Ministry of Earth Sciences

Pune: The first of its kind ambitious project by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) of cloud seeding successfully took off on Wednesday after two specially designed aircraft took off from the Baramati airport. 

The project, led by woman scientist Thara Prabhakarn, will be the first detailed scientific study undertaken by IITM which comes under the Ministry of Earth Sciences. The project ‘Cloud Aerosol Interaction and Precipitation Enhancement Experiment’ (CAIPEX) will be working on two different objectives: (a) study on cloud and their interaction and (b) cloud seeding,” said Thara while speaking to Sakal Times at Baramati. The project will be carried out in two phases. The first phase is of 120 days.

With an aircraft which will have various instruments on board will go inside the targeted cloud and will monitor the rain droplets and cloud droplets. “We will be measuring where exactly the droplets are formed and when does it go down on the surface. Down below we have rain gauge meters network at 100 points and will measure how much actual rain come down on the surface,” she said. 

“We are going to sample out the particles in the atmosphere that is the aerosol. These particles will be converted into liquid drops using the instruments PILS (particles into liquid sampler) and then these samples will be collected during the flight when the aircraft will be in the clouds. Further, these samples will be analysed for their ionic composition. 

The aerosols will be further analysed for their chemical compositions in the laboratory for sulphate, nitrates, fluorides, calcium, magnesium, etc., as these are critical components,” said Pramod Safai, scientist, IITM. 

Safai said, “Size of the aerosols is a critical factor besides that it is very critical to decide the characterisation of the clouds and further it will help in the seeding of the clouds. Then we have the inlet system (there are three inlets viz isokinetic inlet, reverse flow inlet and CVI inlet). All the inlets are for different equipment and have a different task to perform. We will release flares near the cloud base which contains water droplets. The flares burnt the particles. These particles attract water vapour from the cloud. This system to release flares is fitted on the other aircraft,” said Prabhakaran. 

Lighthouse project 
This project has spread out a pathway to carry out a detailed and scientific method for conducting artificial rains. Rain gauge meters network at 100 points have been set-up and will measure how much actual rain came down on the surface,” she said. 

IITM has taken the technical help from Weather Modification Centre, USA to fly these specially designed aircraft. 

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