Cloud seeding

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Cloud seeding

  1. 1. Idaho Power Company’s Cloud Seeding Program Shaun Parkinson, PhD, PE
  2. 2. Background • IPC started evaluating cloud seeding based on a shareowner inquiry in 1993 • Literature review – 1993 - 1994 • Data collection -1995 (climatology and background silver levels) • One year program in winter 1996-97 • Operational program started in late winter 2003 • Included two year assessment
  3. 3. Presentation Overview • What is cloud seeding? • How we know cloud seeding works… • IPC’s history with cloud seeding… • IPC’s cloud seeding program…
  4. 4. What is cloud seeding? • The term cloud seeding has been used to describe: – Fog suppression (airports) – Hail suppression (reduce crop and property damage) – Rainfall enhancement (water supply augmentation) – Snowpack enhancement (snowpack augmentation) • Our focus is snowpack enhancement • First, some overview of precipitation process
  5. 5. Precipitation… • A given column of air has a limited amount of water vapor it can hold • For precipitation to occur, the air column must be at or near saturation (i.e. relative humidity ≈ 100%) • Relative humidity is a function of temperature (warm air can hold more water vapor than cold air) • However, saturation alone does not lead to precipitation • Ice nuclei are required for water vapor to convert to ice crystals • Ice nuclei are found naturally in the atmosphere, but may be limited relative to available water vapor • This limitation can provide an opportunity….
  6. 6. Precipitation… Can we get a little more?
  7. 7. Atmospheric Water Vapor • There is a lot more water vapor in the atmosphere than we can see. • Not all water vapor is visible as clouds.
  8. 8. Cloud Seeding The key is super cooled liquid water… Water that is in a vapor state, but below freezing.
  9. 9. Cloud Seeding • Cloud seeding provides mother nature with ice nuclei • But, it is only effective when ice nuclei are limiting and nature is performing the other required precipitation processes – cloud seeding doesn’t create clouds to seed – it will not cure a drought! • Effectiveness depends on: – temperatures, – available water vapor, – ice nuclei properties, – cloud droplet and natural ice distributions • Several agents can be used as ice nuclei, with silver iodide (AgI) being the most common used in commercial cloud seeding.
  10. 10. Cloud Seeding Where did it get started? • In 1946 at GE labs in Schenectady, NY, it was discovered that various materials can initiate the formation and growth of water droplets and ice crystals (leading to cloud seeding). Building on those early discoveries, • Cloud seeding is conducted in over 40 countries • Numerous projects in US, including some dating to the 1950’s
  11. 11. Cloud Seeding Programs - WMA
  12. 12. Cloud Seeding – Wintertime Orographic 1 ., Airborne S.ed.,g .r-~ 6 151030 minutes required for $.flOW cry...I. to gro," .nd rail out " • • • , , • , '.' , • -,.; .. ·.'...~ r;"' :•. 'J, ·',., •., • • .'•,. •• • ·' ' .• , • .• "., . .' . . -.. ... ......' ... • , , .·., ~ ....·,·'. '.• ........~ • •" , • Evapcnation R"IIion Many rooow Cry1iolal6 form In 5EIeded clouds., tllU'5 depoliting &Ome of the cloud water on lhe groond
  13. 13. Silver Iodide Distribution • In commercial programs, silver iodide is burned to release silver iodide particles (ice nuclei) of an appropriate size to the atmosphere. • Ground generators - Acetone – silver iodide solution is burned in a propane flame. • Aircraft - silver iodide is incorporated into a flare, or solution is burned.
  14. 14. Ground-based Generators
  15. 15. Ground-based Generators
  16. 16. Beech King Air C90 • Turboprop • Known performance in icing conditions • Pressurized • Oxygen • Weather Radar • GPS Navigation
  17. 17. Airborne Seeding Equipment
  18. 18. Cloud Seeding How we know it works…
  19. 19. Cloud Seeding • Lots of evidence that it works in laboratory and controlled conditions. • The big question – how do we know it puts snow on the ground? • Plume tracing – UT pulsed seeding experiment • Trace chemistry (IPC’s dual tracer) • Aircraft data collection
  20. 20. Pulsed Seeding Experiment
  21. 21. Pulsed Seeding Experiment Before During After
  22. 22. Pulsed Seeding Experiment Before Seeding Seeding After Seeding
  23. 23. IPC’s Dual Tracer Assessment Approach • IPC needed to demonstrate that project can effectively put seeding material in target area, and that seeding increases snowpack as expected. • Independent contractors performed assessment • Co-located seeding and tracer generators – Release seeding and tracer at same rate • Silver iodide (AgI) released from both ground and aircraft generators. • Silver incorporated into snowpack through ice nucleating (seeding) process or scavenging • Inert tracers (non-nucleating) incorporated in snowpack through scavenging process only.
  24. 24. Co-located Generators
  25. 25. Ice Nucleation vs. Scavenging Indium oxide nano-particles are passively incorporated into snow crystals (scavenged). Silver Iodide nano-particles actively cause ice crystal formation (seeding)
  26. 26. IPC’s Dual Tracer Assessment Approach (cont.) • Following seeding, sample snowpack for evaluation of trace levels of silver, indium, and cesium as well as snowpack density • Ratio of silver to tracer (ex. Indium) in the snow pack gives an indication of how much silver deposited by ice nucleating vs. scavenging processes.
  27. 27. Snow Sampling and Ground Generator Sites Ground Generators D2 D1 Low B1 B3 B2WH NB MZ T1 T2 T3 T4 T5 OT1 SP MC BC NGV CC MM KR BM Control Sites 2003-2004 Sites 2004-2005 Sites New sites were sampled in 2004 -2005 due to access problems in 2003- 2004.
  28. 28. Sampling Snow Pack • Snow samples collected using ultra-trace ‘metal clean’ techniques and acid cleaned equipment.
  29. 29. Analytical Methods • Samples acidified with ultra-pure nitric acid in class 100 clean room. • Analysis by High Resolution Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry. • Detection limits of ~ 300 parts per quadrillion for silver – 300 / 1,000,000,000,000,000 (1015) • Think of it as a single drop of water in a sports arena like the Idaho Center (Nampa, ID)
  30. 30. Targeting from Chemistry Data • Targeting of the seeding operations was assessed by integrating the silver found in the snow over a given storm period to estimate the total amount of silver deposited during the storm. December 6 through 9, 2004 March 5 and 6, 2004 Control site MC BC NG V MM KR BM MC BC NG V MM KR BM CM Ground-generator Site = silver deposited 100 x 10 -12 g = silver 100 g released Example Targeting Maps for the March 2004 and December 2004 storm periods
  31. 31. Aircraft Targeting • Aircraft seeding identified by using a cesium tracer. • Identification of aircraft tracer was complicated by dust – cesium, which was also deposited in the snow . Aircraft Cesium Cesium from dust 2D profile of snow cesium
  32. 32. Targeting Results • The amount of silver deposited downwind of active ground generators was much greater than that found at the control sites. • Silver deposition maps show that the center of the target area was affected by the seeding operations. • Indium concentrations were generally very low – Silver not from scavenging • Evidence for targeting by aircraft was found in the center of the target area in December 2004. • The project layout and operations can effectively hit the target area with both ground generators and aircraft. • Determining precipitation increases…
  33. 33. Snow Pack Density Seeded snow Unseeded snow
  34. 34. Example 2D Snow Pack Density Profiles Density I. II. Control Site
  35. 35. Example 2D Snow Pack Silver Profiles . I. II. Control Site Silver Parts per trillion
  36. 36. Trace Chemistry Interpretation Trace Chemistry Snow Pack Density 13% increase in integrated water mass (SWE).
  37. 37. 2004 Cloud Physics • Two planes – seeding and research aircraft. • Research aircraft fitted with a number of probes to measure parameters important to precipitation
  38. 38. 2004 Cloud Physics Cloud physics data collected just prior to the onset of airborne seeding. In particular, note the second and third frames, and compare them to the following diagram. Time (GMT) 07:10:00 07:20:00 07:30:00 07:40:00 Altitude(m) 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 3500 4000 VerticalVelocity(m/s) -500 0 500 1000 1500 Altitude (m) Vertical Velocity Temperature( o C) -10 -5 0 5 10 Dewpoint(o C) -10 -5 0 5 10 Dewpoint Temperature FSSPLWC(gm-3) 0.0 0.5 1.0 DMTLWC(g/m 3 ) 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 LWC FSSP LWC MixingRatio(g/kg) 2 4 6 8 SaturationVapor Pressure(mb) 2 3 4 5 6 MixRatio SatVap MeanIce CrystalSize(um) 100 200 300 MedianIce CrystalSize(um) 0 100 200 300 Mean (um) MVD (um) 2DCTotalIce Concentration(#/l) 100 200 300 400 ShadowOrCrystal Concentration(#/l) 0 200 400 600 800 Total Accepted Conc. ShadowOr Conc.
  39. 39. 2004 Cloud Physics The same data as in the previous figure, but shortly after the initiation of airborne seeding. Note that the total ice mass increases dramatically about 20 minutes after the onset of seeding while at the same time, the mean ice crystal size decreases. Indicative of conversion of supercooled liquid water into new ice crystals that can then grow into snowflakes. Time (GMT) 08:15:00 08:25:00 08:35:00 08:45:00 Altitude(m) 3000 3200 3400 3600 3800 4000 VerticalVelocity(m/s) -500 0 500 1000 1500Altitude (m) Vertical Velocity Temperature( o C) -10 -5 0 5 10 Dewpoint(o C) -10 -5 0 5 10 Dewpoint Temperature 08:15:00 08:25:00 08:35:00 08:45:00 FSSPLWC(gm-3) 0.0 0.5 1.0 DMTLWC(g/m 3 ) 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 FSSP LWC DMT LWC MixingRatio(g/kg) 2 4 6 8 SaturationVapor Pressure(mb) 2 3 4 5 6 MixRatio SatVap MeanIce CrystalSize(um) 100 200 300 MedianIce CrystalSize(um) 0 100 200 300 Mean (um) MVD (um) 2DCTotalIce Concentration(#/l) 100 200 300 400 ShadowOrCrystal Concentration(#/l) 0 200 400 600 800 Total Accepted Conc. ShadowOr Conc.
  40. 40. Trace Chemistry Summary • Due to compaction of the snow pack, water increases could not be estimated for the 2003-2004 season. • During 2004-2005, DRI concluded cloud seeding revealed an average increase of 7%. Individual storm events ranged between 7 and 35% increases. • Under favorable conditions, greater increases may be obtained through longer seeding periods. • Moving to flares significantly increases seeding potential from the aircraft.
  41. 41. How do others view cloud seeding? • During California energy crisis while PG&E was facing bankruptcy, the CA PUC advised PG&E that they would continue their cloud seeding programs during reorganization. • PG&E is working to expand their project
  42. 42. Idaho Power’s Cloud Seeding Project • At the request of shareholders – began investigating cloud seeding in 1993 • Literature review 1993 and 1994 • Climatology study water year 1994-95 • Contracted operational program in 1996-97 • Planned to perform internal program in 1997-98 – canceled do to no mechanism to recover project expenses and share benefits • Reinstated in Feb 2003. • Operational including assessment in fall of 2003 • Completed second year of assessment and third year of operations in May 2005. • Currently in final stages of 5th operational year
  43. 43. Idaho Power’s Cloud Seeding Project IPC views cloud seeding as a long-term water management tool. Project Organization • In literature review, found expert opinions that some commercial programs benefit public relations more than anything else. • Most long-term programs have an in-house component - representing stakeholders interest. • Rather than commission entire project, IPC elected to employ key personnel to represent the Company’s interest. • A 3rd party provides aircraft and conducted an assessment.
  44. 44. Current Project Organization Internal • Forecasting, project operations (dispatch balloon launches, ground and aircraft seeding), equipment fabrication and maintenance, solution mixing, data (NOAA port), communications and control software. • Project staff – 2 staff meteorologists (forecasting, operations) – 2 water resource specialists (ground gens) – shared time - administration, data acquisition and communication External • Aircraft and pilots • Weather balloon launches • Part time forecasting meteorologist
  45. 45. Effective Program An effective program includes: • Knowledge of: – Water content – is the storm conducive to seed? – Temperature profile – Wind speed and direction • The wrong combination of temperature and water content can easily lead to reduced precipitation. • Winds effect targeting • Flexibility – ability to seed a range of conditions • Aircraft safety – Flying a plane in storm conditions – pilot needs guidance regarding severe ice, lightning, etc.
  46. 46. Both Airborne and Ground-based • Seeding intended to enhance snowpack at the higher elevations above 4500’ • Target area ~ 938 sq. miles • ~ 497 mi2 above the 6000’ level • Combined approach provides more opportunities for addressing storms. • Complementary Too warm for ground, can still fly, too cold to fly, can still use the ground units, or, Use both at the same time
  47. 47. Weather Balloons
  48. 48. Weather Balloon Data By Elevation: • Temperature • Relative Humitity • Wind Speed • Wind Direction
  49. 49. Ground-based Generators Burn Head Sotelte Solar Ponel --II- Crane ----r ---------,I B~e~B~'-_1~----. SokJIion Tank K-5tand TN•• _ _ - -t-T"m,>e<.otu"e Ptcbe Igntion Ceil Upper VaN e Boc: Computer Control Box LalVerVawe Box t-Jtrogen Bottles Prcpone Tan~
  50. 50. Ground Generator Locations
  51. 51. Getting There…
  52. 52. Ground-based Generators
  53. 53. Ground-based Generators
  54. 54. Generator Components Control Box Valve Boxes Burn Chamber
  55. 55. Aircraft Seeding J
  56. 56. Target - Control Target vs. Control Cumulative Precipitation 1987-2002 Historical Relationship and 2003-2007 Observed y = 1.0893x - 4.2385 R2 = 0.9640 18.0 23.0 28.0 33.0 38.0 43.0 48.0 53.0 58.0 18.0 23.0 28.0 33.0 38.0 43.0 48.0 53.0 58.0 Pooled control site cumulative precipitation (in.) - Oct. 15-Apr. 15 Pooledtargetsitecumulativeprecipitation(in.)-Oct.15-Apr.15 2003 - 16% ABOVE EXPECTED 2004 - 5% ABOVE EXPECTED 2005 - 26% ABOVE EXPECTED 2006 - 15% ABOVE EXPECTED 2007- 10% ABOVE EXPECTED
  57. 57. Operations Summary WY WY % % TC Status Normal Benefit Total Air Ground Air Ground 2003 89% 16 33558 23270 10288 15.4 515 start-up (Feb-Apr) 2004 65% 5 21485 2803 18682 11.9 930 assessment 2005 59% 7* 27301 11122 16179 50.5 810 assessment 2006 160% 15 113173 97710 15463 48.5 768 operational 2007 52% 10 106082 76980 29102 51.3 1351 operational *DRI Trace chemistry average benefit TC = Target - Control Silver Iodide Hours
  58. 58. Benefit Summary 2008 Benefits estimate using: • USBR regression equation for Payette at Horseshoe Bend – Using current 2008 conditions (near normal) • Precipitation increase of 10% from cloud seeding • Results in approximately 100 KAF of additional Mar – Jul runoff Estimated cost per acre-foot of additional water ≈ $8.50
  59. 59. Questions?

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