(note: these are highlights of the Executive Summary)
A response by the Weather Modification Association to the
National Research Council's report titled: "Critical Issues in Weather Modification Research"
The Report of a Review Panel
The Weather Modification Association (WMA) is an association of scientists, engineers, economists, water management professionals, government and private business people, and others who have spent and continue to spend their careers working in the field of weather modification.
The members, having read the National Research Council’s report “Critical Issues in Weather Modification Research”, issued last October 13,, have helped prepare this response to that report.
The NRC panel was asked to identify critical uncertainties limiting advances in weather modification science and operations and to identify future directions in weather modification research and operations for improving the management of water resources and the reduction in severe weather hazards, among other things.
They were to do this even though the panel members collectively had very limited experience or knowledge in weather modification operations, especially in recent years.
This current panel was organized to prepare a WMA response to the NRC report concerning issues having operational impact or scientific consequences on operational projects and to provide additional information to the members of the WMA and the public.
The national press seized on the conclusion of the NRC panel that there was no convincing scientific proof that cloud seeding worked, not realizing that the panel had opted for a definition of scientific proof that few atmospheric problems could satisfy.
On the other hand, the NRC panel concluded, “there is ample evidence that inadvertent weather and global climate modification (e.g., Greenhouse gases affecting global temperatures and anthropogenic aerosols affecting cloud properties) is a reality”.
We think, however, that global climate change and inadvertent weather modification would both fail the level of proof applied to planned weather modification.
We nevertheless strongly support the NRC’s recommendation to establish critical randomized, statistical experiments along with the necessary physical measurements and modeling support to reduce the many uncertainties that exist in the science of weather modification.
The NRC panel notes operational programs in 24 countries and at least 66 large-scale operational weather modification programs in the U.S.
The WMA believes large-scale operational programs have produced and continue to produce positive effects for society. The WMA does not agree with the NRC suggestion that implementation of large-scale operational programs would be premature.
We support many of the recommendations of the NRC panel, but add several of our own:
We support the NRC recommendation that a coordinated national program be developed to conduct a sustained research effort in the areas of cloud and precipitation physics, cloud dynamics, cloud modeling, laboratory studies, and field measurements designed to reduce the key uncertainties that impede progress and understanding of intentional and inadvertent weather modification.
But, we argue that the coordinated national program should also support exploratory and confirmatory field studies in weather modification.
It should capitalize on operational cloud seeding programs, and use them as a basis for testing models, and developing new statistical methods for evaluating the efficacy of those operations.
We support the NRC conclusion that a coordinated research program should capitalize on new remote and in situ observational tools to carry out exploratory and confirmatory experiments in a variety of cloud and storm systems.
We recognize that much of the cloud seeding conducted today, and likely in the future, is done in situ by aircraft.
A limited weather modification pilot training curriculum presently is in place at the University of North Dakota (two semesters).
This program should be expanded under the auspices of the national research program to improve the breadth of training provided, emphasizing flight in IMC (instrument meteorological conditions) and including actual hands-on, in-the-cockpit seeding experience.
Correct targeting is mission-critical, yet nationally, many pilots presently working on operational programs receive only limited training, many not having the benefit of any formal training whatsoever.
When pilots are undertrained, project results are likely to suffer.
A certification program for pilots by an organization such as the WMA, which, in addition to formal university instruction might include periodic recertification and/or recurrency training, would significantly improve the overall abilities and capabilities of the operational weather modification pilots.