Weather Could Be Controlled Using Lasers
Scientists are attempting to control the weather by using lasers to create clouds, induce rain and even trigger lightning.
Experts from around the world are to gather at the World Meteorological Organisation next month to discuss how powerful laser pulses can be used to generate changes in the atmosphere that influence the weather.
Their experiments have shown that intense pulses of light can cause ice to form and water to condense, leading to the formation of clouds.
The scientists have now begun testing their equipment outside for the first time with extremely short pulses of laser light were fired into the sky.
Researchers have also proved that lightning discharges can be triggered and channeled through the air using laser pulses.
They hope the technology could allow lightning during thunderstorms to be guided away from sensitive buildings such as power plants or airports.
It could also be used to manipulate the weather by creating clouds and triggering rainfall ahead of major public events.
There is a long history of attempts by scientists to control the weather, including using techniques such as cloud seeding.
This involves spraying small particles and chemicals into the air to induce water vapour to condense into clouds.
In the 1960s the United States experimented with using silver iodide in an attempt to weaken hurricanes before they made landfall.
More recently the Russian Air force has also been reported to have used bags of cement to seed clouds.
Before the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, the Chinese authorities used aircraft and rockets to release chemicals into the atmosphere.
Other countries have been reported to be experimenting with cloud seeding to prevent flooding or smog.