The adage "Everyone complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it," may one day be obsolete if researchers at the University of Central Florida's College of Optics & Photonics and the University of Arizona further develop a new technique to aim a high-energy laser beam into clouds to make it rain or trigger lightning.
The solution? Surround the beam with a second beam to act as an energy reservoir, sustaining the central beam to greater distances than previously possible. The secondary "dress" beam refuels and helps prevent the dissipation of the high-intensity primary beam, which on its own would break down quickly. A report on the project, "Externally refueled optical filaments," was recently published in Nature Photonics.
Water condensation and lightning activity in clouds are linked to large amounts of static charged particles. Stimulating those particles with the right kind of laser holds the key to possibly one day summoning a shower when and where it is needed.
The American West could find itself in a prolonged drought since really massive droughts occur naturally and can last for over a century. Past megadroughts occurred before the American West became densely populated. American and Canadian Westerners: Are you willing to go to extreme lengths to deal with a drought? I'm not talking about lasers. My suspicion is that come the next megadrought the air will be too dry for lasers to pull much water out of the air.
What I have in mind: Nuclear power plants built along the North American coast line to provide the power to pump salt water hundreds of miles inland to massive (really massive) evaporation lakes. The salt will stay behind as the fresh water goes into the air to come back down when it reaches mountain ranges. We should aim for enough water to make the Colorado River flow higher than it has before and for the Missouri River Basin and the Saskatchewan River Basin in Alberta to get very hefty flows or rain run-off from evaporated and then precipitated salt water.
Coastal regions can survive in desalinated water. But further inland the need for water (especially for agriculture) is much greater. Can large evaporation lakes be built on fairly flat regions? I'm thinking, for example, desert areas in Nevada that are sparsely populated.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2014 April 19 07:07 PM|