Chinese officials have announced that the Beijing Meteorological Bureau has successfully carried out experiments aimed at preventing light rain from washing out the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics on 8 August.
The problem for the games' organisers is that the showpiece Bird's Nest stadium which will host the gala is an open-air affair, Reuters explains. Accordingly, the bureau was tasked with tackling the precipitation issue. The bureau's splendidly-titled "head of weather manipulation", Zhang Qian, told a press conference: "Our experiments with rain mitigation have been aimed at light rain. With heavy rain it is more difficult.* The results with light rain have been satisfactory."
She elaborated: "For cold clouds below zero degrees (Celcius), we use a coolant made from liquid nitrogen to increase the number of droplets while decreasing their mean size. As a result, the smaller droplets are less likely to fall and precipitation can be reduced.
"For clouds above zero degrees we use the seeding agent silver iodide to accelerate the droplets' collision and coalescence, producing a downdraft which suppresses the formation of clouds."
China may also use tried-and-trusted cloud-seeding methods to induce the rain to fall before it reaches the stadium, according to Wang Yubin, deputy chief engineer at the bureau. It's also hard at work gearing up for the pre-games ascent of the Olympic torch to the peak of Mount Everest, and Wang assured: "We will have very detailed forecasts. We will be able to tell the organizers: the winds are too strong, you cannot do it on this day, or, you can do it on this day." ®
*Yes, we know. A nice way of saying "if it chucks it down, you're going to take a soaking, matey".