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Geoengineering: Japan wants to control heavy rain and typhoons

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Geoengineering: Japan wants to control heavy rain and typhoons

Geoengineering: Japan wants to control heavy rain and typhoons

“Guerrilla rain” is the term that has come into use in Japan for sudden rains in large cities. More than 100 liters of water fall per square meter in one hour. A consortium of Japanese universities wants to combat these torrential downpours. The force of typhoons should also be slowed down. Because both will occur more frequently with climate change and cause ever greater damage. It is therefore not surprising that combating the phenomena is one of the Japanese government’s moonshot projects and specifically represents moonshot target number 8.


The problem of local downpours results from the concrete deserts with many high-rise buildings. The large heat exchangers of the air conditioning systems produce more hot air, which tends to collect in the lee of high-rise buildings, rises and produces rain clouds in a short time.

One idea is to use large fans to disperse the heat bubbles and thus the air vortices near the ground and thus influence the formation of rain clouds. In 2010, a simulation based on an actual guerrilla rain event in the city of Kobe concluded that such countermeasures could have reduced rainfall by 27 percent.

Narrow rain fronts that linger over an area for days are another phenomenon that is becoming increasingly common in the Japanese archipelago. The reason: Due to the higher sea and air temperatures, more water evaporates.

If the rain fronts hit the mountain ridges of Japan, a fatal chain reaction of downdrafts and updrafts can lead to the formation of cumulonimbus clouds in rows.

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The amounts of rain are massive, as was observed again this week on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu. For example, from June 29 to the afternoon of July 4, 681 liters of rain per square meter fell in a village in Kumamoto Prefecture. Authorities warn of flooding and landslides, two constant companions in mountainous Japan.

Japan has always tried everything possible with electronics – and often the impossible. Every Thursday our author Martin Kölling reports on the latest trends from Japan and neighboring countries.

The researchers now want to interrupt this mechanism with a method that is also used to make rain: spraying dry ice into the clouds. In order to reduce constant rain, the researchers are considering spraying dry ice at specific points in the updraft so that the cloud cannot rise as much. This is intended to compensate for the downdrafts and thus interrupt the feedback loop in cloud formation.

The researchers also want to take the power out of typhoons, for example by using fleets of sailing ships or by preventing the absorption of water vapour. But the scientists still have a lot of work to do in order to solve questions about the effects and side effects, problems with implementation such as costs and, above all, the massive energy consumption.

As early as 2030, the teams are to use climate models to create small feasibility studies for the various concepts. After that, the first tests should take place, according to a presentation from March 2023.

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The researchers see major applications from 2040 onwards. However, the ideas should not be limited to Japan. Cooperation with foreign research institutes is firmly planned in Japan’s geoengineering plan.


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