Hugo Chavez: ardent socialist, Venezuelan president, rain maker?
A crippling drought in his country has led Chavez to embrace cloud seeding. This week, he announced that he will team up with Cuban scientists to fly through clouds and “zap” them with silver iodide so they produce precipitation, one of the most popular kinds of cloud seeding and the one China said it used to induce a snowstorm this February.
Reuters was there to catch the president’s excitement:
“I’m going in a plane; any cloud that crosses me, I’ll zap it so that it rains,” Chavez said.
Seeding the clouds doesn’t do any good if there’s no moisture to begin with, but we presume that President Chavez wants to try anything that might help. Anyway, “zapping” is a more pleasing alternative to threatening, which the president previously tried on his countrymen. From UPI:
Earlier this month Chavez accused Venezuelans, including businesses, of wasting water and warned of tough punitive measures. He advised people … to limit showering to three minutes. Jacuzzis, watering of lawns and flowerbeds and filling of swimming pools have all been banned.
For the sake of Venezuela’s swimmers, horticulture enthusiasts, and hot tub manufacturers, here’s hoping the president’s plan is a success.
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No one is quite sure what caused bizarre 600-mile-long tubular clouds to form above a small Australian town. But because the fluffy white rods, known as Morning Glory clouds, can move up to 35 miles per hour, they can pose a problem for airplanes flying through the area.
A small number of pilots and tourists travel there each year in hopes of “cloud surfing” with the mysterious phenomenon.
Similar tubular shaped clouds called roll clouds appear in various places around the globe. But nobody has yet figured out what causes the Morning Glory clouds.
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Noctilucent (“night-shining”) clouds hover at the edge of Earth’s atmosphere, at altitudes of 76 to 85 km. They’re so high up that they reflect the sun even at night, producing an electric-blue glow. Now some scientists say these high-flying clouds may come with a metal lining – not made of silver, but of sodium and iron.
For the last two years, the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) satellite mission has been studying noctilucent clouds, also known as polar mesospheric clouds. A curious property of these clouds is that they reflect radar, which scientists thought might be due to charged particles in the clouds. But new mathematical calculations published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres by Paul Bellan, a physicist at Caltech, suggests the reflections could be due to a thin layer of metal coating the clouds.