Water is one of the most basic commodities on earth sustaining human life. In many regions of the world, traditional sources and supplies of ground water, rivers and reservoirs, are either inadequate or under threat from ever-increasing demands on water from changes in land use and growing populations. This has prompted scientists and engineers to explore the possibility of augmenting water supplies by means of cloud seeding.

This paper provides an overview of the current scientific status of weather modification activities to enhance precipitation for both glaciogenic and hygroscopic seeding experiments. It is important to emphasize that although funding for scientific studies has decreased substantially during the past decade, operational programs have actually increased.

During the last 10 years there has been a thorough scrutiny of past experiments involving experiments using glaciogenic seeding. Although there still exist indications that seeding can increase precipitation, a number of recent studies have questioned many of the positive results, weakening the scientific credibility. As a result, considerable skepticism exists as to whether these methods provides a cost-effective means for increasing precipitation for water resources.

Recent results from hygroscopic seeding experiments provided for some renewed optimism in the field of precipitation enhancement. Although promising results have been obtained to date, some fundamental questions remain that need to be answered in order to provide a sound scientific basis for this technology.

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Footnotes

*The National Center of Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.