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China's massive 'sky river' weather control project will be 'ready by 2022'

China hopes to move water vapour from wet regions to the arid north using a weather control project. Photo: Getty Images

Engineers behind the Tianhe project - which translates to “river in the sky” - are designing a network of six satellites which will be used to monitor damp air as it moves through a man-made “air corridor” above the vast country.

The finished system will reportedly help China’s drought-prone northern regions by shifting rain clouds towards the Tibetan Plateau which see little rain.

A suite of onboard sensors will monitor the distribution of water vapour “that will be moved to more arid areas”, according to Chinese state media.

Meanwhile, equipment installed at ground level will release tiny silver particles into the air which then provide material for clouds to form around.

The first batch of satellites will reportedly be online by 2020 with the entire network ready by 2022.

Scientists behind the project at the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST) say they have identified “water vapour channels” in the skies above China.

Though they have not revealed whether they plan to move the newly formed clouds artificially or by using these natural channels.

If the system works as planned, it will reportedly deliver the equivalent of seven percent of China’s annual water consumption and provide water for some 1.4 billion people.

Tianhe will not be the first time China has made use of weather control technology and this latest project is part of a wider campaign to harness the country’s “cloud water resources”.

In 2016, Beijing earmarked £23million ($30million) to fund a ‘cloud seeding’ programme aimed at producing more than 60 billion cubic metres of extra rain every year until 2020.

The project involves firing projectiles filled with salt and minerals into the sky.

Once released, the microscopic particles provide material for water to condense around and rain drops are formed.

China first publicly used weather control on a mass scale during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Organisers made use of a team of some 3,000 “weather changers” ahead of the opening ceremony who used more than 1,000 rockets to deliver microscopic particles into the air above the capital.

The multi-million pound plan averted a downpour which was forecast to drench the ‘Bird’s Nest’ stadium during the landmark event.

Officials from the Beijing Weather Modification Office insisted there was no environmental danger from using silver iodide to disperse rain and clouds.

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