Australia floods: Cloud seeding claims that are unfounded spread online

Sydney was hit by major flooding for the third year in a row.

Australia floods: Cloud seeding claims that are unfounded spread online

Sydney was hit by major flooding for the third year in a row. Scientists attribute intense rainfall to a variety of factors, but social media has seen widespread accusations of weather manipulation.

Parts of Australia's largest cities were brought to a halt by the rains that fell in four days.

Experts believe that there is no one factor that can cause extreme weather. Instead, they point to the warmer oceans and more saturated soils as contributing factors.

However, conspiracy theorists don't believe it. They blame extreme rainfall on "cloud seeding", and "weather manipulation" via social media.

Although there isn't any evidence to support such theories, it hasn’t stopped falsehoods reaching thousands of people online.

Cloud seeding is real. This involves manipulating clouds to produce more rain and snow.

This is accomplished by firing tiny particles (typically silver iodide), into clouds. The particles are surrounded by water vapour, which eventually falls as precipitation.

This technique has been used for many decades. It has been used to help irrigate crops all over the globe.

However, there is no evidence that cloud seeding could have anything to do the current Sydney rainfall. However, some TikTok users have criticized "weather engineering"

They claim it's part of a government plot to "weaponize" the weather against its people, a well-known conspiracy theory that has been around for many years.

"The notion that this is happening on an extensive scale and that there are motives to manipulate the weather is completely mythical," Dr Ellie Gilbert, a British Antarctic Survey climate scientist, said.

Yet, the myth seems to be popular. The BBC has seen many accounts that have shared this content.

A 2016 news report by 7News, an Australian television network, has been shared by conspiracy theorists. It has been viewed thousands of times.

It reports on the concerns of Tasmanian residents about the possible connection between cloud seeding and the worst floods in the past 40 years.

A probe by the Tasmanian government revealed that cloud seeding was not responsible for heavy rains. This conclusion has been supported by independent scientists.

Dr Gilbert says that there is no coordinated effort to alter the weather. He also adds that cloud seeding would only have "a very small effect."

The intense rain Sydney has received in the past few days is not due to one cause. Experts say that the flooding is being caused by climate change and La Nina weather phenomena.

When strong winds blow warm Pacific surface waters away from South America towards Indonesia, a La Nina is formed. They are replaced by colder water at the surface.

A La Nina in Australia increases the chance of rain, cyclones and cooler daytime temperatures.

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