China’s air force deployed a "magic-like" range of chemicals and technology to clear Beijing’s smoggy air for a grand parade marking the 60th anniversary of Communist China.
Chemists and officials worked for weeks on the country’s most ambitious ever attempt at weather modification, with air force technicians fanning out across the region to help teams operate complex equipment.
The evening before the parade, chemicals were fired into the hazy skies and a light rain washed the city clean.
Surrounding provinces had already been loading clouds with silver iodide and dry ice, to try and force rain to fall before it reached Beijing.
Cui Lianqing, a senior air force meteorologist who said the parade operation was the largest in China’s history, said, "Only a handful of countries in the world could organise such large-scale, magic-like weather modification."
Contingency plans allowed for the teams to use one kind of chemicals to bring down rain in the parade area, and another to hold it off. As it happened it rained. But could it have rained a lot more if had not been for these efforts.
Reuters reports Cui, despite their success, said there was still room for further improvements. He said, "The technology we have mastered so far could only allow us to modify the weather to a limited extent. There are many uncertainties up in the sky."