Regarding the state of Sinaloa, where on the ground the Mexican army carries out security functions, since three years ago they have been flying planes of the Fuerza Area Mexicana with other types of “weapons”.,
On board, they carry containers with a valve that must be opened at a stated location and time to deliver the blanks.
My point is that it is necessary: Make it rain in areas that are suffering from growing water crisis,
This strategy has been colloquially called “bombardio” or “cloud seeding”, but technically it is “flood stimulation”.
According to official statistics, Rainfall has increased between 35% to 60% in the areas where it has been implemented,
And this happens in states in the central-north of the country, such as Sinaloa, where rains no longer arrive as late as they used to in the agricultural season.
In addition, where cattle pastures have not increased due to lack of water, water is also a problem in basins that supply water to large cities such as Monterrey.
“We are in the grip of the desertification process in the world, and Mexico is not an exception”, explains engineer Santiago Arguelles Campos to BBC Mundo, one of the coordinators of the strategy of the Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development (Sadar). ,
“For us, this strategic project is an innovation given the dry conditions that have prevailed since 2019,” he assured.
Although the effectiveness numbers reported by Seder are very encouraging, researchers in the field of atmospheric science still consider there is no solid evidence That this type of project works at an impressive level.
But what is it that makes clouds fly and how are their results measured?
Since the mid-20th century, scientists in various parts of the world have been testing methods of modifying time, mainly in terms of rain or snowfall. American scientist Vince Schaefer is known as its creator. “Cloud Seed”,
Similar experiments have been carried out in Mexico for decades Results that “were never conclusive”According to researchers Fernando García García and Guillermo Monteiro Martínez of the Newbies Physics Group at the Instituto de Ciencia de la Atmosfera and Climatico Change.
But since 2019 Cedar has been promoting a new rainwater stimulation strategy with an innovative Mexican method, Arguelles explains.
He says, “We neither seek nor have the intention to create clouds, rather we only work on cloud paths that exist under normal meteorological conditions.”
Clouds form when the rising air cools to the point where the temperature causes the water vapor in it to condense.
“It’s just like when the steam in the shower condenses on the mirror and forms droplets. It is the same mechanism of condensation in the atmosphere”, Katja Frederik, researcher at the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado (USA), explains to BBC Mundo.
To “bomb” the clouds, using planes from FAM (and other public and private entities involved in the project) in Mexico, such as Sprinklers and pressure tanks have been installed,
“In the polygon that we have defined and under cloudy conditions, a solution of platinum iodide dispersed in acetone stimulates the formation of condensation nuclei”, explains Arguelles.
presence of A chemical agent that stimulates rain is It is already in the clouds present in the selected area and due to natural factors, can be destroyed and not precipitated. that’s why this mexican method Its purpose is not to create clouds, but to affect clouds that are already present in the atmosphere,
This program has been implemented in 2023 10 polygons Focusing on water stressed areas in central, northern and western states such as Aguascalientes, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas.
How do you measure its effectiveness?
Polygons where precipitation is induced can be as large as millions of hectares, In these areas, the National Meteorological Service (SMN) has historical records of precipitation and calculates how much precipitation is expected based on statistical models.
After spraying from flights, officials on the ground have pluviometers moderate excess rainfall to a regular average What would NMS expect for that particular time.
Thief 250 flights When done, the instrument recorded one to two-thirds more rainfall than expected. “This means that the average rainfall has been higher than expected between 35% and 60%, and it is important to say that it is defined three parameters”, says Arguelles.
These are: an increase in rainfall of between 35% and 60% with respect to that expected by the SMN; get united 100% efficiency, puts that every time it is sprinkled, rain is generated; And a 93% effectivenesswhich indicates the number of polygons that have received rainfall in relation to the rainfall estimated by them.
“Typically, we choose areas of high water stress, areas of seed cultivation, mainly of basic cereals, or grasslands that have priority for food self-sufficiency goals, and important for hunting in ditches or basins There are aquifers that manage water for human consumption and agricultural irrigation”, explains the employee.
The latter has an effect in large cities, such as Monterrey or Mexico CityBecause some of the overflow has induced rain on the basins that supply the dams and other water management systems for the demand of these cities.
“Now that we have an El Niño event, SMN explained to us that we are getting more cloud cover in the Pacific, in the center of the country, not necessarily more precipitation. So this is an opportunity to apply this innovation, to take advantage of this cloud”, explains Arguelles.
Is Las Sequoias the Gran Solution?
Since Seder, they point out that the project has benefited areas with high hydric stress, which do not already account for the amount of water needed for agricultural irrigation, or areas where rain is delayed. And the sowing cycle passes and there is no opportunity to sow.
Vegetation has also increased in the plains, which benefits the livestock industry. They have also used rainfall stimulation to reduce wildfires, as happened this year in the Sierra de Artega, Coahuila.
However, experts plan to There is a need to be careful about the consequences of such projects., There are so many variations in climate that it is impossible to be sure about rainfall stimuli and soil studies, whether arithmetic calculations can be made or not.
Difficult to measure whether strategies such as seeding or cloud bombardment increase the amount of rain Rainfall varies from year to year in the same area, Furthermore, there are different rain protectors between regions of the same country that cannot be compared.
“Precipitation is too variable to see how much it really changes the effect between one year and another”, says Frederick, who has seen results of between 5% and 30%. A significant change can be, if not more than, 20%.
a long term studio, for many years or decadesIt is he who is working on a strategy like cloud stimulation in Mexico which can give accurate results.
Arguelles admits there have been skeptics about the country’s strategy, but indicates there is “a lot of confusion” among some analysts due to the different approaches the world is taking. “If they mention other kinds of techniques, some about generating clouds, we don’t focus on them,” he argues.
“What we tell us is that with this technology, for us, We have quantified the resultsThe increase in rainfall and the cost-benefit is positive”, he adds.
Officials also point out that rainwater harvesting is not considered by the government as a solution to drought, but rather as part of measures to reduce the water crisis in the country.
“It (stimulation of rain) cannot be done as a single task, it is an integral strategy and complements various programmes,” he assured.
He adds, the country should prepare for scenarios of greater water scarcity in the near future: “We believe that watering with crystalline water will be a luxury in the future”.
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