Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Wednesday, Jun 29, 2005

About Us
Contact Us
International
News: Front Page | National | Tamil Nadu | Andhra Pradesh | Karnataka | Kerala | New Delhi | Other States | International | Opinion | Business | Sport | Miscellaneous | Engagements |
Advts:
Classifieds | Employment |

International Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Rain-making experiment

Dale Fuchs

Spain's hi-tech solution to a water shortage

MADRID: Spain is turning hi-tech to solve its water woes. As crops wither and reservoirs evaporate in its worst drought for 60 years, an international team of scientists is designing a system to increase rainfall on the country's parched Mediterranean coast.

Using a special heat-absorbing fabric, scientists from Spain, Belgium and Israel are trying to create "islands of heat," which would accelerate air currents and favour the formation of rain clouds, according to Jesus Vigo of the University of Salamanca, who is leading the project.

The scheme was announced at a mathematics conference on June 27 at the University of Alicante. In effect, scientists are trying to imitate a pattern commonly observed around cities in satellite images taken by "rain radar" of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The concentration of concrete and asphalt makes city air warmer than surrounding areas, according to a study by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre. The hot currents rise, blow and clash with the cooler suburban air. Under the right conditions, they form rain clouds. Because of this so-called "urban heat island" effect, monthly rainfall is about 28 per cent greater between 30-60 km downwind of cities, compared with upwind, the study found.

Within two years, Mr. Vigo said, this process will be replicated with special dark fabric on the Spanish coast, where there is optimal heat, breeze and humidity. Experiments are already under way in the Israeli desert, he said.

But the process will not arrive in time to save Spain's bleached plains and shrinking reservoirs, now at 50 per cent capacity. The drought has provoked power failures, sparked forest fires, devastated crops and revived battles over water-sharing between wetter northern regions and the arid south.

And these water worries run deep, said Guido Smith, head of the fresh water programme for Spain's World Wildlife Fund. More than 30 per cent of the country is at risk of turning to desert.

The most threatened area is the Mediterranean coast and inland regions of Murcia and Alicante.

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

Printer friendly page  
Send this article to Friends by E-Mail

International

News: Front Page | National | Tamil Nadu | Andhra Pradesh | Karnataka | Kerala | New Delhi | Other States | International | Opinion | Business | Sport | Miscellaneous | Engagements |
Advts:
Classifieds | Employment | Updates: Breaking News |


News Update


The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | The Hindu eBooks | The Hindu Images | Home |

Copyright 2005, The Hindu. Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of The Hindu