On November 2nd, the city of Beijing was subjected to an unseasonal snow storm - one that lasted for 11 hours, blanketing the entire city with 16 million tons of snow and causing road and air traffic to come to a complete standstill, for hours.
However, this storm, the earliest, the city has seen in more than a decade, was not a freak act of nature nor a result of global warming. Instead, it was man-made, created by the Beijing Weather Modification Agency - a branch of the Chinese weather department that has been trying to perfect the technique of manipulating the weather in China for a number of years.
The agency, which claims credit for the perfect weather during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, created this particular storm to alleviate the severe drought situation, that is currently facing Northern China.
The techinque, known as 'cloud seeding', involves injecting clouds with chemicals like dry ice or silver iodide, which cause the air to cool down drastically and precipitate as rain or snow. For the recent snow storm, the agency fired 186 chemical-filled rockets.
While Beijing residents were pre-warned to expect a light snow storm, the onslaught of the white powder, as well as, the freezing temperatures, caught everybody by surprise!
As global warming changes weather patterns all over the world, there has been a growing interest in adopting these kind of strategies on a more wider scale. In spring of 2010, a group of the world's leading weather experts plan to get together in California, to discuss how to deploy something like this on a much larger scale.
However, there are also a lot of people who believe that manipulating weather may distort things even more, and lead to bigger weather-related issues. What do you think? Be sure to let us know by adding your comment below.
sources:guardian.co.uk, wikipedia.org, ifrica.com, dailymail.co.uk