China has to feed nearly 1.4 billion people, despite 40 % of its arable land suffering from degradation.
Cloud-seeding rain-making chain of chambers.
The largest-ever weather modification program worldwide is named Tianhe and located across the Tibetan Plateau in China.
The name Tianhe originates from the ancient Chinese name for the Milky Way, which was the sky river that separated Niulang and Zhinyu in the folk tale “The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl”.
The project, developed by researchers in 2016 at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, is covering an area larger than Alaska and three times the size of Spain with tens of thousands of fuel-burning chambers for cloud seeding to channel large amounts of additional artificial rainfall into China’s arid northern regions.
In 2018, the installation of hundreds of burning chambers on alpine slopes in Tibet, Xinjiang and neighbouring areas started, with a deadline of 2022.
Throughout the past months the program has been increasingly questioned and criticized, internationally and nationally: the Tibetan plateau feeds most of Asia’s major rivers, including Yellow, Yangtze, Mekong, Salween and Brahmaputra.
These streams serve as lifelines for a considerable proportion of the world population. The local and transnational implications of the Tianhe project, not only in terms of water supply, are as yet unknown.
Discover Solution 76: planting trees in arid land
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