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Earth Science Technology

Geoengineering a Snow-Free Winter Fails In Moscow 202

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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  • 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...

  • 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.

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

    by dtolman ( 688781 ) <> 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...

  • 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:Madness (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bigjeff5 ( 1143585 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @07:51PM (#30601090)

    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?


    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 around freezing inside - snow is a fantastic insulator.

  • 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:good job russia? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cimexus ( 1355033 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @09:22PM (#30601758)

    I once looked it up, and 15 cargo ships produce as much greenhouse gas as all the cars in the world combined.

    As much as I despise the phrase ... lolwut?

    Just think about that for a second. Use your sense of natural intuition, your common sense, your sense of proportions and orders of magnitude. Does that statement seem even remotely plausible. That 15 ships emit the same volume of GHGs as a billion cars?

    For the record, what you are thinking of is this: [] ...which is talking about the volume of ~pollution~ (e.g. sulfur, particulates, other 'dirty' stuff etc), not greenhouse gas emissions (most GHGs aren't dirty and cannot really be called pollutants, as they occur naturally in decent concentrations anyway). When we are talking about pollution (rather than GHG emissions), modern cars are in fact very clean indeed due to the tough emissions standards in most countries in the last several decades.

    Having said that shipping is still a substantial slice of the greenhouse gas pie (the above article attributes 3-4% influence to total anthropogenic GHGs). But it's nowhere near the huge difference between cars and ships as you make out.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:57PM (#30602696)

    yup. idiot humans have terrible memory and they blow things all out of proportion when they remember the anomalies. Guess what? Predict tomorrow will be like today and you instantly have 70% accuracy. Most people agree that is pretty good and all "weathermen" do better than that. Or more recently, meteorologists exquisitely predicted the gigantic storm x-mas storm that stretched from Mexico to Canada. In fact, all models converged and gave very accurate predictions of all vector/scalar quantities, like moisture content, local precip, velocity, vorticity, pressure etc. Really climate science has advanced tremendously in the last decade or two do to good funding and awesome increases in computing power. I could take these criticisms in stride if this widespread ignorance wasn't holding back society at large...

  • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <> on Thursday December 31, 2009 @02:20AM (#30603330)

    Back when I was in elementary school, my school was privaledged to have a special weather program for the more advanced students. A special satellite dish was installed on the roof hooked up to special terminals in our classroom; we had a direct downlink from the satellite.

    I recall seeing a big hurricane coming towards us. With the data we had (a few hours worth), I knew it would hit by tomorrow. The meteorologists said it was a low chance of it coming in, but the basic signs - cold fronts, warm fronts, wind, the path of the hurricane, etc. - indicated to me that it was more likely that it would hit us. In short, I stayed up late and got two days off from school due to heavy rain. It was fun indeed.

    Even with the limited data I had (compared to modern meteorologists), though, it still could have passed us by. It just would have been more and more unlikely.

    The parent(s) are right about the unpredictability of weather, though. I generally don't trust forecasts beyond the next day (and sometimes not even then), because a shift in air pressure, wind, temperature, etc. can divert an incoming storm miles and miles away. It all falls down to computer models and what is "most likely", but until they invent magic crystal balls it will never really be accurate enough to satisfy the people who would depend on long-range forecasts. Not without human intervention (cloud-seeding, etc.) at least.

  • Re:Madness (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pareto Efficient ( 1622141 ) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @04:23AM (#30603738)

    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 acid drain cleaner as a catalyst (gets things started). Only a few eye drops worth are required.

    Its safe, simple, harmless fun with chemistry and a great way to get kids into science by having them make pleasant smells. (Use supervision)

    It beats the stuffing out of those so called chemistry sets that are sold and for a fraction of the price.


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