The Jindalee Operational Radar Network. Photo: Department of Defence
For over five decades in Australia, the study of clouds, rain and the atmosphere has been largely hidden from the public, as a secretive network of government agencies and private business interests continue to manipulate the weather around us to their personal benefit.
Geoengineering, or weather manipulation, has now become commonly accepted as the deliberate intervention or large-scale manipulation of the climate system of Earth to counteract ‘global warming’ or to influence the environment.
Global climate is controlled by the amount of solar radiation received by Earth and also by the fate of this energy within the Earth system. That is, how much is absorbed by Earth’s surface and how much is reflected or reradiated back into space.
The reflectance of solar radiation is controlled by several mechanisms, including Earth’s surface albedo and cloud coverage and the presence in the atmosphere of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2).
To this notion, geoengineering aims to target these key areas, with two main underlying techniques responsible: direct carbon dioxide removal, such as cloud seeding, and solar radiation management that aims to cool the planet by reflecting more sunlight.
Geoengineering techniques. Photo: Xu Qifei
Geoengineering proposals were first developed in the middle of the 20th century. Relying on technologies developed during World War II, such proposals were designed to alter weather systems in order to obtain more favourable climate conditions on a regional scale.
Australia has been heavily involved in these processes since the beginning of advancements in technology, with major projects, documented experiments, legislative pieces and more, for over 50 years.
CSIRO: CREATING THE RAIN
One of the best-known techniques of geoengineering is cloud seeding, a process that attempts to bring rain to parched farmland by dispersing particles of silver iodide or solid carbon dioxide into rain-bearing clouds.
Cloud seeding may involve attempting to produce rain when none would normally fall or it may be working to increase precipitation over a particular area.
This theory began in Australia shortly following the world’s first laboratory trials, after new research papers published by USA researchers I Langmuir and V Schaefer stated that rain could be induced by seeding clouds with dry ice.
After a series of experiments in New York, the two researchers managed to make it rain using silver iodide bullets. They got a patent for their technique, referred to as ‘cloud seeding’, soon after.
As a result of the international study, cloud seeding was first trialed in Australia in 1947 when the CSIRO used Royal Australian Air Force aircrafts to drop dry ice into the tops of cumulus clouds.
According to CSIRO history, the method worked reliably with clouds that were very cold, producing rain that would not have otherwise fallen, leading to more subsequent trials.
The first documented date of this success was in 1947. Described by CSIRO:
“This is believed to be the first documented case anywhere in the world of an appreciable man-made rainfall reaching the ground and the first time that dynamic cloud growth had followed seeding.”
Following the success of initial trials, CSIRO scientists would continue this work until 1952, soon expanding to include theoretical, laboratory and airborne investigations of cloud structure and reaction:
Chronicle article from 1948. Photo: WeatherModificationHistory.com
CSIRO carried out similar trials from 1953 to 1956 in South Australia, Queensland and other states, however this time covering a large area instead of singular clouds as before, and developed new techniques to show to the world:
SMH article from 1951. Photo: WeatherModificationHistory.com
Experiments used both ground-based and airborne silver iodide generators to gain results. Each experiment covered a target area of 2,000 to 8,000 square kilometres and a neighbouring control area of the same size which was not seeded.
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, CSIRO performed cloud seeding in the Snowy Mountains, on the York Peninsular in South Australia, in the New England district of New South Wales, and in the Warragamba catchment area west of Sydney.
CSIRO’s activities in Tasmania in the 1960s were also successful, with seeding over the Hydro Electricity Commission catchment area on the Central Plateau achieved documented rainfall increases as high as 30% in autumn.
The Tasmanian experiments were so successful that the Commission has regularly undertaken seeding ever since in mountainous parts of the state.
Furthermore, striking results documented across Australia held such promise at the time that new systematic programs of cloud seeding were set up as a result for the next fifty-years.
This work is done today by the CSIRO Division of Cloud Physics under the ‘Marine and Atmospheric Research’.
As technological advancements began to take shape on a global level, so did the scale of programs and cooperation between countries to advance these techniques in the 20th Century.
The Jindalee Operational Radar Network is a multi-billion dollar high frequency over-the-horizon radar (OTHR) that uses the ionosphere to monitor air and sea movements across at least 37,000 square kilometres.
JORN became a core research project from 1970 and was developed to provide surveillance across Australia’s northern sea and air approaches, and is Australia’s first comprehensive land and air early warning system.
It provides a 24-hour military surveillance of the northern and western approaches to Australia, and also serves a civilian purpose in assisting in detecting movements.
It is used in the ‘defence of Australia’, and can also monitor maritime operations, wave heights and wind directions.
In 1991, the Commonwealth awarded Telstra (previously Telecom) a prime contract worth $860 million to design and construct the Jindalee Operational Radar Network.
Telstra awarded major sub-contracts to GEC Marconi and Telstar Systems, a joint venture between Telstra and Lockheed Martin Corporation, and is supported by BAE Systems Australia, according to the SA government.
RLM Management Company, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and the Tenix Group assumed full management responsibility for the JORN project in 1997.
BAE Systems will undertake significant upgrades to the JORN, with a $1.2 billion enhancement set to peak at more than 500 highly technical jobs, many of them in South Australia, over the next 10 years.
Although no longer operational, one of the most public cases of geoengineering to hit Australia was Project Stormfury, which from the mid-1960s to 1980s was a project dedicated to experimental hurricane modification.
The hypothesis was that the silver iodide would cause supercooled water in the storm to freeze, disrupting the inner structure of the hurricane. This led to the seeding of several Atlantic hurricanes.
In the late-1970s, the project would make the journey to Australia for experiments:
The important project reaches Australian shores. Photo: WeatherModificationHistory.com
Former Cuban president Fidel Castro alleged that Project Stormfury was an attempt to weaponize hurricanes, as a new field of weaponized warfare became a reality as the 20th century came to a close following this suite of experiments.
Although now gone, this program would pioneer cloud seeding across the world.
THE COMPANIES INVOLVED
Geoengineering continues across Australia in 2018 – and is more advanced than ever.
Today, while some government-run projects exist, the most popular type of project involves coordination between the government and a private company.
A key example of a modern operation currently bringing these experiments to the modern era – one of two of the largest in Australia – is weather and water experimental company, Snowy Hydro, based out of the Snowy Mountains in NSW.
Following initial cloud seeding trials in 2004 in the region, Snowy found that the “exceptional scientific merit of the trial”, “positive results of the evaluation”, and “absence of adverse environmental impacts” were sufficiently ‘compelling’ for the government to pass legislation for an ongoing, operational cloud seeding program.
James Pirozzi, manager at Snowy Hydro, explained how their technology works and has developed in the 21st century:
“We’ve got a series of ground-based generators on the western side of the Great Dividing Range in the Kosciusko National Park, and we use the natural terrain features in the wind to give us uplift to get that material from the ground up into the clouds,” Mr Pirozzi said.
Those generators, the burners themselves [are] essentially a big propane flame.”
The cloud seeding activities undertaken by Snowy Hydro are authorised by the Snowy Mountains Cloud Seeding Act 2004 (Act), which prescribes a number of mandatory requirements for cloud seeding programs in NSW.
A 2009 paper looking into cloud seeding found “overall rainfall over targets was somewhere between 5 per cent and 13 per cent greater than over a nearby control region”.
Another recent peer reviewed paper suggested an average 14 per cent increase in rainfall due to recent Snowy Mountain cloud seeding trials.
A company by the name of Hydro Tasmania conducted were also recently under fire for cloud seeding in the lead-up to deadly flooding in north-western Tasmania that resulted in a coronial inquest.
It was later found in a DPAC review that the seeding from Hydro “had no measurable impact on precipitation” — despite the flight lasting for an hour and 34 minutes over the Upper Derwent catchment, targeting Lake Echo.
The review found the cloud seeding flight did not contribute to subsequent flooding of 2016.
Hydro Tasmania’s cloud seeding operation has been on hold since the incident.
Weather Modification, Inc. also supported the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency during their 2008 ‘Feasibility Study for the Augmentation of Rain & Air Chemistry Monitoring’ – providing an instrumented aircraft and crew for cloud seeding.
In December 2006, the Queensland government announced $7.6 million in funding for “warm cloud” seeding research to be conducted jointly by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the United States National Center for Atmospheric Research.
These are only a few examples!
MURDOCH AND TURNBULL
Current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced in 2007 that $10 million from the Australian Government Water Fund will be given to the investigation of an ‘untried technology’ that aims to trigger rainfall from the atmosphere, even when there are no clouds.
Thought we forgot? Photo: ABC
The money bankrolls research into mysterious ionisation technology promoted by the secretive Australian Rain Corporation (now Australian Rain Technologies), in hopes of using forthcoming trials to show the technology can bring increased rain.
The company will be taking methods previously discussed above, and adding electrification of the ionosphere to create clouds out of thin air, even when there is no rain, a technique so far not explored.
Mr. Turnbull’s office says there was no breach of caretaker protocol because the project was actually approved before the election was announced.
Malcolm Turnbull’s fundraising group, the Wentworth Forum, includes a long list of generous donors responsible for this move, including Frank Lowy, Ros Packer, John Simons, and Matt Handbury – chairman and part-owner of the Australian Rain Corporation!
It has been revealed that Mr. Handbury is the wealthy nephew of Rupert Murdoch and chairman and proprietor of Murdoch Books, which is the headquarters for Australian Rain Corporation!
All starting to make sense now?
Malcolm Turnbull was asked the following question in relation to the connection by the ABC in 2007: Has Matt Handbury’s contribution to your fundraising Wentworth Forum helped in securing funding for the Australian Rain Corporation?
“There is absolutely no connection,” he said.
“That is an outrageous suggestion”.
Requests for interviews with Mr. Turnbull, the head of the Australian Rain Corporation, the head of the center contracted to test the device were declined.