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Earth Science Technology

Geoengineering a Snow-Free Winter Fails In Moscow 202

Posted by timothy
from the anthropogenic-warming-is-hard dept.
dinoyum writes "Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov's promise of a winter without snow in the capital city has fallen short. While cloud seeding is not a new concept for Russia, often used on major holidays, geoengineering snow has never been done to that magnitude. Carrying off the $6 million procedure required jets to spray silver iodide into coming clouds, ensuring that all precipitation fell before it reached the capital. However a combination of disrupted radar, wind control, and faulty weathermen have been blamed by Luzhkov for his failed attempt at playing with mother nature. For now, Russia can go back to enjoying snow."
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Geoengineering a Snow-Free Winter Fails In Moscow

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  • by ShaunC (203807) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @04:54PM (#30599396)

    I didn't think they came in any other variety.

  • Huh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nametaken (610866) * on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @04:54PM (#30599398)

    Given what it costs to deal with snow in a major city each year, $6 million sounds like money very well spent. Now if only someone would get the dome cities idea back on the table...

  • If they want to avoid the snow they should just invade Spain and move there. Of course, their hockey tradition would die pretty quickly.

    • by nametaken (610866) *

      Spain would be a little bit of a hike for Russia.

      Also, I don't think they've figured out how to control the temperature... at least not safely.

    • But I hear it rains, mainly on the plain, in spain..

    • by pjt33 (739471)

      Would this be the same Spain that had to close several motorways due to snow this month? The same Spain whose capital city had snow in May this year?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @04:59PM (#30599468)

    Winter geoengineers YOU!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @05:02PM (#30599504)

    That would be like Paris without dogshit.

    • Bangalore without cow patties.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DNS-and-BIND (461968)
      Can we please stop with the constant flow of unreasoning right-wing hatred of the French on slashdot? We get it, surrender monkeys. You don't have to throw it in to totally unrelated discussions about other European nations. Kthx.
      • by demonlapin (527802) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @06:55PM (#30600608) Homepage Journal
        What's right-wing about dissing the French? English-speaking nations have been doing it since AT LEAST 1066.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Sloppy (14984)

          That's what's right-wing about it: it's old and safe. I would give an example of left-wing dissing, but I can't think of any groups that haven't been dissed.

          Alpha-Centurians, maybe? Naah, Douglas Adams already did it.

          • That's what's right-wing about it: it's old and safe. I would give an example of left-wing dissing, but I can't think of any groups that haven't been dissed.

            In these parts it's the people who call themselves 'left' who are very much into trying to achieve perfect safety.

        • They weren't speaking English as you'd know it back then. In fact it was the Norman conquest of England that lead directly to the formation of the modern English language, so the French are in fact responsible for the language you are dissing them in.
      • by Tynin (634655)

        Can we please stop with the constant flow of unreasoning right-wing hatred of the French on slashdot? We get it, surrender monkeys. You don't have to throw it in to totally unrelated discussions about other European nations. Kthx.

        I'm going to have to refer you to the irrefutable wisdom of Thomas Jefferson.

        - "Every man has two countries: his own and France."

        So, since Jefferson has asserted that we're all of both our nation and of France, I think it is only fair that we are allowed to talk down about either location. Given that France is much smaller than the rest of the world, if everyone spoke out against their own country and that of France equally, it begins to make sense why we see so much more vitriol toward France.

      • The french actually insult the french more than those in the states.
      • by hkz (1266066) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:43PM (#30602642)

        And to think their refusal to validate the UN resolution against Iraq because of doubts about the intelligence (which was the direct cause for all the vitriol against the French in the past few years like the "Freedom Fries") turned out to be *completely justified*. Who's the funny guy now?

  • Madness (Score:3, Interesting)

    by iamacat (583406) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @05:07PM (#30599578)

    Russia is reverting to its industry-over-humans ways. Sure road cleaning might cost a bit, but who would to spend 5 months with subfreezing temperatures but no snow (which would accidentally raise temperatures a bit). No snowmen, no snowballs, no sledding, no respite from pollution by covering up the accumulated gunk with white? And in spring city landscaping will suffer from lack of moisture in soil.

    • by zlogic (892404)

      Yup, I confirm that a snowless winter is much colder. The snow acts as a thermal insulator, so that a -3C without snow feels like -10C with snow.
      Also, snow is aesthetically nice, covering up all the dirt and old brown grass etc.

      • by Cimexus (1355033)

        Given the same conditions. Temperatures (particularly at night) are significantly colder if there is a ground cover of snow, than if there isn't (because as you said, snow is a thermal insulator that keeps the heat in the ground, and thus out of the air). Read the 'forecast discussion' on any NOAA forecast for an area that has a good snow cover and a clear, still night and they often mention things like "bumped temps down a few degrees from guidance, due to snow cover".

        The effect during the day will also be

        • by iamacat (583406)

          Ah, but practically speaking snow cover will be established during 5 months of subzero temperatures cloud seeding or not. So what remains is raise in temperature from phase transition of lots of water and a heavy cloud cover that keeps the heat from dissipating. Look at thermometer sometime - it gets 10C warmer in 20 minutes once heavy snowfall starts.

    • The people who don't die in car accidents would want to spend 5 months with subfreezing temperatures but no snow, actually.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        The reason people die when it snows is because people are dumbasses. People die in car accidents in the summer also because they (or people who hit them) are dumbasses.

        What's this white stuff? Made of ice you say? Well that can't mean it's slippery, and if it isn't slippery why should I slow down and give everyone around me more room?

        Dumbasses.

        Also, the snow in cold climates is very important to keep plants from dieing in the extreme cold season. For something buried in snow, -20 outside will be right aro

    • Re:Madness (Score:4, Insightful)

      by qoncept (599709) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @05:20PM (#30599694) Homepage
      Really? A lot of people hate snow and would presumably be more than willing to go without. Myself included. Unfortunately, living in a tiny town just west of a larger city, if this were to ever happen I'd probably be a little unhappy.
      • Traditionally, when someone dislikes something that others like, we prefer to let things be as they naturally are. Your right to swing your fist... face... etc.

        This means people who like graffiti don't get to impose it on others' buildings, and likewise people who hate snow don't get to remove it from others. While this is seemingly illogical, since one action adds and the other removes, the point is that clean buildings and snowy winters are the default state.

        Even from a practical viewpoint, trying to de

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Plus there's the fact that the rest of the world is trying to fight pollution while these geniuses are regularly spraying chemicals into the air because they think rain is unpleasant. Thanks guys!

          You mean the rest of the world like the USA, where cloud seeding is completely and totally unregulated, and it's not even illegal to do it over someone else's land? And where it proceeds in great volume in spite of there being no evidence that it actually works on the kind of scale usually employed by private contractors working for farmers...

      • by cjb658 (1235986)

        Move somewhere where it doesn't snow.

      • If you hate snow, I'd strongly advise leaving Russia.

      • by aclarke (307017)
        Try doing something winter-related. I live in Canada and I get this attitude all the time from people. They hate the winter and complain about the snow, and basically the only time they go outside is when walking to or from their cars.

        IF you have the correct gear, tobogganing, skating, cross-country or downhill skiing, snowshoeing or just making snow angels are all fun and enjoyable activities. As an added bonus, they're also far healthier than sitting around in the house. This is both from the point
        • by qoncept (599709)
          I live in Iowa and the only of those activities I could really do is cross country skiing. I've done it, it's alright. Downhill skiing I love, but it's not really an option here. It's an inconvenience, causes accidents, and my dog comes back in the house with wet feet all the time. My friends from Alabama that think it's beautiful haven't seen the disgusting, filthy snow on the side of the road.

          I'm not a bitter, unhappy person. I just don't like snow. Incidentally, it's less of an inconvenience than mowi
    • by ALeavitt (636946)
      I don't know about the place where you live, but here in Minnesota we get about two hours of glistening, beautiful, white snow followed by a matter of months of dirty, disgusting, brown or black slush and enormous grey snowbanks. Personally, I think that it would be a much less dreary place in winter if we didn't have all of this accumulated snow.
      Having said that, I'm also an avid skier, so it should go without saying that I don't want to see snow-free winters. Ideally I would just like snow to stay where i
      • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        Having said that, I'm also an avid skier, so it should go without saying that I don't want to see snow-free winters. Ideally I would just like snow to stay where it belongs.

        The snow was there first.

        Anyway where I live it's 4 or 5 months of glistening white snow, if you like the white stuff but hate the brown, you just need to move further north, that's all. Of course, we still get about a month of nasty brown shit, but it also means things are warming up, and we aren't too upset about that when it comes. ;)

    • respite from pollution by covering up the accumulated gunk with white?

      I guess you have never seen snow in a city. Hint: it won't stay white for long...

    • Re:Madness (Score:5, Funny)

      by Robotbeat (461248) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @05:46PM (#30599960) Journal

      Russia is reverting to its industry-over-humans ways.

      That always was my favorite part about the Soviet Union. None of this whiny "but we'll get cancer" crap. In Russia, a guy would be lucky to see his sixties and not die of alcohol-related disease.

      My favorite was Nuclear Explosions for the National Economy [wikipedia.org], which was a much bigger version(i.e. over 200 nuclear explosions!) of the US's Operation Plowshare (a mere 28). They made a lake, went prospecting for diamonds and oil and gas and all sorts of neat things to do with "peaceful nuclear explosions." I believe the Soviets also found a way to make cattle feed directly out of petroleum (though I haven't been able to source this), I suppose in case of nuclear winter. I think the Soviets were also thinking of working with the USA to intentionally melt the Arctic ice sheet via damming up the Bering Strait or something. They were going to use the Energia rocket (designed for their Buran Space Shuttle) to orbit a giant orbiting mirror to illuminate arctic/Siberian towns during the cold, dark winters there.

      You learn how to fight to win in the struggle of Man vs Nature when you live in a place as cold and desolate as Russia.

      I think the Russians actually WANT global warming. I doubt they'll ever start doing anything meaningful to stop it. Heck, an ice-free Arctic would mean a lot more viable trading ports for Russia, something it has always been in very short supply of (compared to the United States, which has ginormous, ice-free trading ports on the two busiest oceans... this has been an enormous engine of growth and geopolitical power for the USA). Also, they would likely substantially increase how much arable land they have available if the temperature rose a few degrees. The only people who have more to gain from Global Warming is probably Canada.

      And if global warming is ever a big enough problem that we just HAVE TO lower the temperature a few degrees via some geoengineering scheme, the Russians are the ones to go to who have the gonads to do it and the industrial capability to pull it off, although China could probably do it just as well.

      • Re:Madness (Score:5, Interesting)

        by stephanruby (542433) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @08:38PM (#30601448)

        I believe the Soviets also found a way to make cattle feed directly out of petroleum (though I haven't been able to source this),

        It's not much of a stretch. In the West (probably everywhere), we use petroleum to make artificial flavors. For instance, strawberry flavored gum or strawberry flavored ice cream just wouldn't exist at the consumer level without faking it with Petroleum-based esterification (there are just not enough strawberries in the World to make that a viable option).

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Absolutely correct!

          After I get off work I make many esters at home, Fischer Esterification is the name of the process. I make rum, cherry and banana flavors regularly. I purify them via vacuum distillation. I make more exotic ones such as pineapple, honey and various other fruits/flavors.

          All you need is a copy of Vogel's 3rd Edition Practical Organic Synthesis (written in plain english), the webpage on wikipedia about esterification and the reagents (ingredients you buy in a walmart) plus a little sulfuric

      • They were going to use the Energia rocket (designed for their Buran Space Shuttle) to orbit a giant orbiting mirror to illuminate arctic/Siberian towns during the cold, dark winters there.

        They actually launched a prototype of that. It didn't deploy right and ended up being just a big shiny thing in the sky confusing lots of people.

  • Does this EVER work? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dtolman (688781) <dtolman@yahoo.com> on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @05:08PM (#30599590) Homepage

    Is this used successfully anywhere, regularly?

    I remember China making mention of doing this for the 2008 games, but as far as I can see, the only policies that really did make a difference in the weather was closing factories, and banning cars from the road to reduce the choking air pollution...

    • Keep in mind, in China they use green spray paint on the grass in its parks [clearwisdom.net] and the sides of its strip-mined mountains. [associatedcontent.com]
  • Stealing all my snow. Bastards! I live further than anyone else from the office, if it snows I get a snow day. So far this winter it has snowed once on my way home from work, and it was all gone by morning.
    I can hear you asking where I live... I live in the best place in the world! Vancouver Canada.
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      I live in the best place in the world! Vancouver Canada.
      --
      There's an old robot saying that applies here:
      DOES NOT COMPUTE

      Wow, that's the perfect combination of post and sig. Congratulations.

  • Lemme get this straight. We're in the middle of a climate crisis, and they're messing with the weather? There couldn't possibly be a connection between precipitation and temperature could there? It's not like water vapor is the most prominent greenhouse gas or anything...
  • by twmcneil (942300) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @05:44PM (#30599942)
    One morning with nothing better to do, I watched from my hotel window as a crew removed snow from the Moscow street below. Men with shovels scooped the snow into a truck, no other machines were used. The truck disappeared to dump the snow into the river. The snow has so much salt in it that nothing, absolutely nothing downstream survives. It's a huge source of pollution. It took the truck about two hours to dump the snow and return. During this time the men lean against their shovels and smoked. They did not employ a second truck which led me to assume that in Russia a truck is worth more than six men.

    So there is a good reason to stop snow accumulation in Moscow (reducing pollution) but unemployment would spike.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by istartedi (132515)

      Wow. That sounds like the Soviet Union never really ended. Is there so much snow that they can't use a plow and shove it up on the sidewalk?

      That would eliminate all the jobs except "snowplow driver", of course.

      As long as you are employing men with shovels, a 2nd truck doesn't really help. They need to rest anyway. The last thing they need is heavy smokers shoveling snow continuously without a break.

      • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        What we do in Alaska is plow the snow up on the sidewalk, and then use single-person driveable snowblowers (like those mini-backhoes you see) to clear the sidewalks. They are wide enough to get the whole sidewalk in one pass, and pedestrians are only inconvenienced a day or two. They would have been trapsing through a foot of snow anyway, so no big change.

        For really small streets a single plow will do the job, for medium sized streets two plows tag-team it, and for the major roads it is generally two to t

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jrumney (197329)
        This may be surprising to you, but outside of North America sidewalks are for walking on, not for storing surplus snow.
        • by istartedi (132515)

          This may be surprising to you, but in many US cities there is a planting strip between the sidewalk and the road. In urban areas the sidewalks may be quite wide and also have a planting strip. While the snowpiles may decrease the pedestrian capacity some, they won't decrease it to the point where the sidewalks are unusable, unless you have truly epic snowfalls (Buffalo, NY leaps to mind). That's why I prefaced my remark with, "is there so much snow that...". I'm not that familiar with Moscow. I know it

      • by jmv (93421)

        Is there so much snow that they can't use a plow and shove it up on the sidewalk?

        If Russia is anything like Canada, that option is only possible in suburbs where there's a sufficiently large area in front of the houses. It just doesn't work in cities. I live in Montreal. We usually get anywhere between 2 and 4 meters of snow in the winter. If you somehow managed to push all of that on the sidewalks, you would end up with 10+ m walls.

        • by istartedi (132515)

          It turned out to be quite difficult to get hard data about snowfall in Moscow. I guess because snow can come in various densities, they prefer to quote liquid equivalents.

          According to one source: " mainly from November through March. During those months Moscow gets a liquid-equivalent of 7.30-8.98 inches of rain. If that all fell as snow, they would get more than 73-90 inches!"

          It sounds like it might the kind of situation you're talking about--epic snowfalls of the type Washington DC saw recently being co

        • I live in Ottawa, so our snowfall is very comparable to Montreal's. Here, ploughs do indeed shove everything onto downtown sidewalks initially, and the sidewalk ploughs clear a path afterwards. Then, after enough ploughed snow has accumulated they'll remove it using giant snowblowing trucks which go down street after street (overnight parking bans would be in effect) and transfer them to dump trucks to take it to designated snow fields. There's almost always one dump truck being loaded and one waiting to ta

      • by Cyberax (705495)

        "Wow. That sounds like the Soviet Union never really ended. Is there so much snow that they can't use a plow and shove it up on the sidewalk?"

        No, not possible. The snow will quickly accumulate.

    • by aclarke (307017)
      When I become dictator, I'm going to ban the use of road salt. Here in Ontario, Canada we dump it all over our roads, even when it looks like it MIGHT start freezing soon. I understand we're using less than before, but why not get rid of it altogether?

      Just drive a little slower. Buy a better car and keep it longer, which you'll be able to do as it won't rust to pieces in 8 years. Cessating road salting will also help bridges and roads last longer and will cause less environmental damage.

      The Swiss
    • Using salt is boneheaded. In Finland, that has just as much (if not more) snow and cold as Moscow, they don't use salt atall, just gravel, combined with an effective road and street cleaning schedule.

  • by damburger (981828) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @06:24PM (#30600304)
    It saved their asses from Napoleon and Hitler, and this is the thanks it gets!

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