Cloud seeding program begins

Hydro Tasmania has commenced its 2013 cloud seeding season, which will run through to the end of October, 2013.

Cloud seeding makes an important contribution to Hydro Tasmania’s annual generating capacity by increasing rainfall over hydro storages. Hydro storages are currently at 37 per cent. This is approximately 10 per cent lower than the same time last year after a particularly dry summer period.

Catchment areas to be seeded this year are Gordon, Great Lake, Lake Rowallan, Lake Mackintosh, Lake King William, Lake St. Clair and Lake Echo.

At the same time, Hydro Tasmania will use its cloud seeding expertise as part of a collaboration that has been awarded a highly competitive Australian Research Council (ARC) grant. The grant is for research that hopefully will improve rainfall forecasting in important catchment areas in south-east Australia.

The Southern Ocean is the source of much of the winter rain across southern Australia. However, some aspects of the ocean’s influence on weather patterns are poorly understood, resulting in limited ability to generate accurate long-term forecasts.

Gaining a greater understanding will support development of modelling tools that will result in improved long-term forecasting. This is vital to improving water resource management in many parts of southern Australia, including Tasmania.

The research is being led by Monash University, with support from scientists at Hydro Tasmania, Snowy Hydro, the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO and the Department of Sustainability and Environment (VIC).

Hydro Tasmania will schedule flights during the 2013 cloud seeding season to coincide with the passage of satellites over the Southern Ocean, providing ‘in-situ’ validation of satellite measurements. Key measurements will be taken, including air temperature, dewpoint temperature, wind and liquid water content of the atmosphere.