PART 3 - THE WEATHER MODIFICATION RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER AUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2005
Weather modification discussion of November 10, 2005
This is Part 3 of the article: the statement and the prepared statement by Dr. Thomas P. Defelice.
(The article has been cut up in 8 parts due to email technicalities that have to do with gmail.)
Senator DEMINT. Thank you. Dr. Defelice?
STATEMENT OF DR. THOMAS P. DEFELICE, PAST PRESIDENT, WEATHER MODIFICATION ASSOCIATION
Dr. DEFELICE. I am honored to appear here today in regards to Senate bill 517.
My name is Dr. Tom DeFelice. I have two degrees in atmospheric science, bachelor’s in—and Ph.D., and a master’s in atmospheric physics.
I was the WMA President—‘‘WMA’’ stands for the Weather Modification Association—President for 2 years, between 2000 and 2002. I’m now the Chair of the WMA Public Information and Outreach Committee. I began the process before you today by engaging a retired State Senator from Texas, John Leedom, who then engaged Senator Hutchison and her staff.
My experiences and the literature demonstrate that weather modification technologies generally possess the potential to increase the rainfall when applied under appropriate conditions. I don’t have time to go into all the details of those conditions, but will gladly take some questions later.
The scientific and operational communities generally agree that the recent advances in the relevant general physical processes and technologies used to assess those processes come together and form the basis for the need to have a sustained national program to carry out basic and applied research in weather modification sciences. This happens to be one of the main recommendations of the Garstang report.
Basically, I see Senate bill 517 as the next logical step as one could derive from the Garstang report. It is about research and development of technologies. But it’s not just any research and any development; it is research and development that could ultimately be used to produce a product that could help everybody. It could help commerce, improve better forecasts of the weather, which could then help our agricultural entities better plan their crops, for example. It could help science by improving their models, improving our understanding of processes, especially those of hurricanes, to understand why hurricanes like Katrina could form, for example. But it also could reinvigorate education. It could help transportation by planning for certain weather events that we may or may not be able to detect, or take for granted—freezing rain, icing of roads, for example. Predicting and mitigating adverse weather conditions in these cases would have a great benefit, not only to lives, but also to our economies. It could also help airports in certain circumstances, particularly during the winter, by clearing out fogs.
Technology could benefit, since the results, information from this bill could be another application directing its innovators and be used to transfer said information to the public. So the research from this bill could also help the people. And that’s what it’s all about. Because the people are faced with an impending water shortage. By the decade of the 2020s, our models predict that 40 percent of the world’s population are going to be living in drought-stressed areas. And we need to start doing something now about that, because if we wait, it will be too late, because we haven’t been doing the research to develop and to make sure we have all our ducks in a row, all our technologies up to par, so that they could be of some more use (for those that are not useful already). We need to do something about this, because 8 percent of the total water budget on the globe is due to consumption, and only 1 percent of the water budget is currently an input. That’s rain. Now, with global warming—and the results of that are predicted to minimize precipitation falling to the ground—that means by the decade of the 2020s, or shortly thereafter, less than 1 percent of the total water budget is going to be an input. That means we’re—and with the population growing, we’re going to consume more water, so we’re going to have a really, really grave and—how do I say it?— big problem on our hands, because, well, there won’t be enough water to feed our crops.
And so, I strongly urge everybody—on this Committee and else- where—to consider passing this bill and bringing it to its companion bill in the House.
[The prepared statement of Dr. DeFelice follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DR. THOMAS P. DEFELICE, PAST PRESIDENT, WEATHER MODIFICATION ASSOCIATION
I am honored to appear before you today in regards to Senate bill 517, the Weather Modification Research and Technology Transfer Authorization Act of 2005. My name is Dr. Thomas P. DeFelice. My background in weather modification began when I was 15 by reading books on the subject; I had many sessions with WMA forefathers Schaefer & Vonnegutt as an undergrad; my academic and subsequent professional career concentrated on learning the fundamentals of weather modification relevant sciences and its technologies; President of WMA (2000–2002), Chair WMA Public Information Committee (since 2004). I now work as the contractor program manager for two NOAA programs. I am here on my own behalf, expressing my own beliefs. I began this process, engaged John Leedom, who engaged Senator Hutchison & her staff, and here we are today.
Weather modification technologies are key to dealing with many present and po- tential future scientific, environmental, and socioeconomic issues like steadily in- creasing human suffering and property damage caused by hazardous weather (e.g. severe weather-Katrina, supercooled fog, freezing rain), fire, and other environ- mental problems related to ‘‘acid rain,’’ biological or chemical warfare, for instance. Their application generally increases rainfall amount. Rain contributes 1 percent of the total global water budget. Global water consumption presently makes up 8 per- cent of the total global water budget. Models estimate about 40 percent of the world’s population will live in water-stressed areas by the decade of the 2020s and consumption will increase. Further, air pollution (global warming) is reported to re- duce the amount of rainfall. Hence, a need to develop new technologies, while apply- ing proven techniques. Water rationing and water management techniques are use- ful, they do not replenish the reduced rainwater amount. (They simply put a small band-aid on a wound that requires multiple stitches.) Therefore they fail to resolve the issues’ root cause. Alternatively, weather modification technologies increase the rainfall amount (compared to normal) under certain conditions. (They simply put multiple stitches on a wound that requires multiple stitches.) Therefore weather modification technologies can resolve the issues’ root cause, which will be ensured through the research and development program set up by passing S. 517 and its companion bill (H.R. 2995).
Yet some retain an issue concerning whether operational cloud seeding activities, especially associated with convective clouds, achieved the intended results claimed. Additional evaluations should pacify this issue, especially with the recent techno- logical advances. This would also help us answer, are weather modification tech- nologies ready to increase water resources and alleviate, or possibly prevent drought. Yes, they are ready to increase water resources under certain cases, based on the available 60-year literature archive, and first-hand information. S. 517 provides a research and development infrastructure for a program that addresses and ultimately resolves these issues, while nurturing and developing these technologies to provide better returns on our investment.
The scientific and operational communities generally agree that the recent ad- vances in the relevant, general physical processes and technologies need to be capitalized upon in the form of a concerted and sustained national program to carry out basic and applied research in weather modification (e.g., Garstang report, Orville report, NRC). However, the perceptions between the science and operational communities differ, namely, (1) Interpretation of scientific proof, (2) Current status of cloud models as applied to weather modification, (3) Evidence of glaciogenic seed- ing in convective clouds, (4) Cold season orographic seeding, (5) Evidence for hail suppression, and (6) Support for specific purposes. The cold season orographic seeding perceptual difference (4) is not a significant difference in perspective, since the science community (post Garstang report) sees orographic cloud seeding as a particularly promising candidate for an intensive field program.
Perceptual difference (6) reflects the differences between the individual cultures (i.e., scientific versus operational) than anything else. Nonetheless, no implementation plans have been proposed.
I summarize an implementation plan for S. 517 for consideration by its Weather Modification Board, which addresses all issues. This implementation plan is born from sound scientific basis derived from 60 years of lessons learned exercises, recent technological advances, and science community recommendations (Garstang report, Orville report, NRC). Societal need provides an impetus for developing systems and technologies that monitor and manage atmospheric events, the creation of a new weather modification research program and implementation plan according to standard engineering practices. This plan helps mitigate the perceptual diferences by setting up an integrated team approach to its activities, and by insisting that its research and development component be geared toward improving the effective- ness of operations.
It calls for administering the resources and the activities for all research and de- velopment efforts directed toward optimizing the technologies used to manage at- mospheric processes and their resultants (e.g., collision-coalescence, hurricanes, orographic and convective precipitation, frozen rain). Its mission would be to develop the technologies used for operational activities that help provide sustainable water supplies and reduce airborne hazards. This includes improving the understanding of the relevant processes and their simulations, as well as the evaluation methods (physical; chemical; statistical-random, non-random) for operational activities through cooperative multidisciplinary research and development arrangements and a well-designed outreach effort. Further development is needed for successful appli- cation of weather modification technologies to mitigate hurricane and tornado dam- age, minimize the negative affects of anthropogenic air pollution on precipitation ef- ficiency, or to neutralize negative effects from pollutant deposition. Such requires a modeling approach, then verification, and transition to operational use.
The modern weather modification technologies applied to disperse supercooled fog, augment the ice crystal process in cloud systems, especially orographic clouds, are very effective. Statistical reanalysis using 50+ years of Sierra data show strong sig- nals that the seeding did produce seasonal snowpack increases of 5–10 percent; as measured by stream runoff data (a conservative surrogate for snowpack increases). Thus, orographic systems, especially winter orographic systems, would help maxi- mize S. 517 derived program success. Garstang’s report apparently was unclear on this fact.
The implementation plan does not include less developed technologies (e.g., extra- terrestrial mirrors; ionization, chaos theory-related approaches; sonic initiation of precipitation, making a hurricane disappear from conventional radar), or tech- nologies that are already known to be too costly for the benefits they provide if any (e.g., using vertical pointing jet engines, or mono-layer films to suppress moisture flow into hurricanes), based on insufficient scientific and engineering test results, which pose a significant risk to programmatic success. The plan does not support funding for Federal Operational cloud seeding, except for small tests/experiments of new technologies.
In closing, failure to send S. 517 to appropriate committee hearings with the com- panion Udall Bill (H.R. 2995), translates into desertification, more destructive weather, and even jeopardizes our standing as the premier scientists, engineers and practitioners in this area. We have an implementation plan for the program under this bill. We have the best technology, the brightest personnel to successfully carry out the implementation plan. The 60 years scientific and engineering basis helps as- sure success. Passing S. 517 now, helps avert adverse efects of desertification, Katrina-like hurricane destruction, and air pollution effect on the rain process, for example. Thus, this tax payer fully supports passage of Senate bill S. 517 with a sufficient budget and duration.
Senator DEMINT. Thank you, Doctor. Dr. Garstang?
(Go to Part 4.)