As a response to extreme water shortages in southeast Queensland, Australia, brought about by reduced rainfall and increasing population, the Queensland government decided to explore the potential for cloud seeding to enhance rainfall. The Queensland Cloud Seeding Research Program (QCSRP) was conducted in the southeast Queensland region near Brisbane during the 2008/09 wet seasons. In addition to conducting an initial exploratory, randomized (statistical) cloud seeding study, multiparameter radar measurements and in situ aircraft microphysical data were collected. This comprehensive set of observational platforms was designed to improve the physical understanding of the effects of both ambient aerosols and seeding material on precipitation formation in southeast Queensland clouds. This focus on gaining physical understanding, along with the unique combination of modern observational platforms utilized in the program, set it apart from previous cloud seeding research programs. The overarching goals of the QCSRP were to 1) determine the characteristics of local cloud systems (i.e., weather and climate), 2) document the properties of atmospheric aerosol and their microphysical effects on precipitation formation, and 3) assess the impact of cloud seeding on cloud microphysical and dynamical processes to enhance rainfall. During the course of the program, it became clear that there is great variability in the natural cloud systems in the southeast Queensland region, and understanding that variability would be necessary before any conclusions could be made regarding the impact of cloud seeding. This article presents research highlights and progress toward achieving the goals of the program, along with the challenges associated with conducting cloud seeding research experiments.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atmospheric Science