Southeast Queensland Cloud Seeding Research Program (CSRP)

Overview

Water shortages occurred in the Southeast Queensland region due to several years of reduced rainfall and an increasing population. As a response, the Queensland Government invested resources into studying the feasibility of precipitation enhancement via cloud seeding. A very important part of this feasibility study is to obtain high–quality measurements of atmospheric conditions within the region as they pertain to cloud and precipitation processes. Aerosol and microphysical measurements, in particular, can help determine if seeding could be beneficial and also help determine what the optimal seeding method would be with regard to its potential for enhancing precipitation in local clouds.

Two seasons of the Southeast Queensland Cloud Seeding Research Program (CSRP) took place between December 2007–March 2008 and November 2008–February 2009. These field research operations were a combined effort among a number of collaborating institutions. During the field projects, unprecedented physical measurements related to cloud and precipitation processes were collected using an extensive suite of airborne instrumentation and a large network of weather radars, including dual–polarization and dual–Doppler radar capabilities. Additionally, statistical cloud seeding trials were conducted in a randomized seeding experiment.

Project Objectives

The overall objective is to provide an assessment of the potential for cloud seeding to enhance rainfall in Southeast Queensland. The scientific objectives are to make preliminary assessments of:

  1. The climatological characteristics of precipitation and in particular the frequency of clouds suitable for seeding.
  2. The approaches necessary to obtain robust estimates of precipitation amount and retrieve microphysical properties of the clouds.
  3. the effect of cloud seeding on storm microphysics and dynamics, including precipitation particle types, number and size of precipitation particles and horizontal and vertical air motions, to determine if there is evidence of increased secondary convective storm initiation and/or precipitation enhancement from cloud seeding.

Analysis efforts for the Queensland Cloud Seeding Research Program (CSRP) are therefore focused on three major areas for the greater Brisbane region: understanding the weather and climate, characterizing the atmospheric aerosol and cloud microphysics, and assessing the impact of cloud seeding to enhance rainfall. These research efforts are currently underway. The data sets collected in the two field seasons are vast and unprecedented for a cloud seeding research project, and thus many varied research efforts can continue to utilize the Queensland CSRP data sets well into the future.