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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 15 May 2019

Submitted as: research article | 15 May 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Evaluation of hygroscopic cloud seeding in liquid-water clouds: a feasibility study

Fei Wang1,2, Zhanqing Li2,3, Qi Jiang4, Gaili Wang5, Shuo Jia6, Jing Duan1, and Yuquan Zhou1 Fei Wang et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory for Cloud Physics, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing, 100081, China
  • 2State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology and College of Global Change and Earth System Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, 100875, China
  • 3Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
  • 4National Meteorological Center, Beijing, 100081, China
  • 5State Key Laboratory of Severe Weather, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Science, Beijing, 100081, China
  • 6China Huayun Group, Beijing, 100081, China

Abstract. An airborne cloud seeding experiment was conducted over the eastern coast of Zhejiang, China, on 4 September 2016 during a major international event held in Hangzhou. In an attempt to reduce the likelihood of rainfall onset, a major airborne experiment for weather modification took place by seeding hygroscopic agents to warm clouds to reduce cloud droplet size. The effectiveness of seeding is examined, mainly for stratiform clouds with patchy small convective cells. A radar-domain-index algorithm (RDI) was proposed to analyze the seeding effect. The threshold strategy and the tracking radar echo by correlation (TREC) technique was applied in the domain selection. Factors analyzed include echo reflectivity parameters such as the mean and maximum echo intensity, the anomaly percentage of the grid number of effective echoes, the fractional contribution to the total reflectivities, and the vertically integrated liquid water content (VIL) during and after the seeding process. About 12 minutes after seeding ended, the composite reflectivity of seeded clouds decreased to a minimum (< 10 dBz) and the VIL of seeded clouds was ~ 0.2 kg m−3. The echo top height dropped to ~ 3.5 km, and the surface echoes were also weakened. By contrast, there was no significant variation in these echo parameters for the surrounding non-seeded clouds. The seeded cell appeared to have the shortest life cycle, as revealed by applying the cloud-cluster tracking method. The airborne CDP measured cloud number concentration, effective diameter and liquid water content gradually increased since the cloud seeding start. This probably because the hygroscopic growth by agent particles and collision-coalescence by small cloud droplets. However, these parameters sampled at ~ 40 min after seeding decreased significantly, which probably due to the excessive seeding agents generated a competition for cloud water and thus suppressing cloud development and precipitation. Overall, the physical phenomenon was captured in this study, but a more quantitative in-depth analysis of the underlying principle is needed.

Fei Wang et al.
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Fei Wang et al.
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Short summary
Many laboratory, modeling, and field experimental studies on cloud seeding have been conducted for more than a half century, assessing the effectiveness of cloud seeding is very challenging due to notorious difficulties in gaining convincing scientific evidences. The goals of this study are to evaluate any consequence of aircraft hygroscopic seeding and to develop a feasible method for analyzing the cloud seeding effect for stratocumulus clouds.
Many laboratory, modeling, and field experimental studies on cloud seeding have been conducted...