China's government announced this week that it is expanding its weather-modification program fivefold, allowing it to create artificial rain and snow across half the nation to assist with droughts and fires.
The project uses a technology known as "cloud seeding," a method of spraying liquid nitrogen or silver iodide into clouds, which causes water droplets to condense and fall. A chemist at General Electric in the U.S. was the first to discover the method in 1946.
Many nations, including the U.S., use cloud seeding to help control limited weather patterns, using the technology to modify dangerous storm systems, bring relief to crops suffering from drought, break up hail particles to lessen damage to crops, and encouraging rainfall from clouds over forest fires.
One such instance where China claims to have used the technology was before the 2008 Olympics, when launching chemicals into an approaching storm system caused rain to fall earlier, preventing precipitation from falling during the opening ceremonies.
Equipment used in China's program include rocket launchers, aircraft, and mineral bullets that are fired into the sky. China aims to cover more than 2.1 million square miles with the program over the next five years.
Such technology has also had wartime applications, such as in Vietnam, where the U.S. used the technology in an attempt to make monsoon season last longer.
The Chinese government says the program will be at a "worldwide advanced level" by 2035.