Seeding The Skies in South Africa
Among ACP countries, South Africa has played a key role in developing operational techniques for cloud seeding, and has produced some of the most encouraging results.
The National Precipitation Research Programme (NPRP), formed in the 1990s, developed the hygroscopic flare for seeding convective storms, which suck in humid air from close to the Earth’s surface. It also developed radar technology for cloud seeding, now being used in more than 20 projects in six other countries.
Experiments conducted between 1991 and 1997 found that seeded storms translated into an average increase of between 20% and 48% in the average annual runoff in 13 different catchments over the eastern Highveld and escarpment. The model also showed average increases of 22% in timber yields due to cloud seeding.
Now known as the South African Rainfall Enhancement Programme (SAREP), the South African team is setting up a network of weather radars to provide the final link in the chain of proof — the evidence that rain from seeded clouds actually falls on the ground where it is needed.