Is artificial rain the answer to Karachi's heatwave?

Updated Jun 24 2015

Email

Currently the required types of clouds are not available but the radars of met office are monitoring the situation.—Reuters/File
Currently the required types of clouds are not available but the radars of met office are monitoring the situation.—Reuters/File

KARACHI: The government of Pakistan has been considering the option of ‘artificial rain’ to provide Karachi’s citizens some respite from the searing heatwave that has devastated the metropolis, claiming in excess of 500 lives.

But how do you get artificial rain? Basically, a combination of chemicals is sprinkled on normal clouds— a practice called “cloud seeding”— which induces rainfall, though the same process has been used in some places to prevent hail and fog.

The practice is very common in China, where dangerously high levels of air pollution put residents at risk, which is why the government frequently uses induced rain to bring down pollution levels.

To discuss the possibility of induced rain in Pakistan, a high-level meeting was held in Karachi on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Abdul Malik Ghauri, director general ports and shipping.

Mr. Ghauri had also invited Met Department experts and other concerned officers, civil society representatives and traders to attended the meeting.

The meeting was told that the met office was capable of creating artificial rain and that it had been done before in Pakistan.

Mr. Ghauri, while talking to Dawn.com, said inducing rain in Karachi was not an immediate possibility.

Quoting weather experts, he said from the 10 types of known clouds, only three support artificial rain, which are not available in Karachi at the moment.

But he said the met office was on the lookout for favourable clouds and as soon as it became possible, rain will be induced in Karachi.