Cloud seeding planes to prevent climate floodings in Jakarta

To counteract future flooding Indonesia has decided to carry out cloud seeding to try and prevent further rainfall over the capital, Jakarta, and surrounding areas, as the death toll reached 43 on Friday amid flash floods and landslides.

Torrential rains in the days either side of the new year have flooded parts of Jakarta and nearby towns. The country’s meteorological agency called it “one of the most extreme” rainfall events since records began in 1866 and said climate change had increased the risk of extreme weather.

The Indonesian National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Agus Wibowo said about 397,000 people sought refuge in shelters across the greater metropolitan area. Those returning to their homes found streets covered in mud and debris. Cars that had been parked in driveways were swept away, landing upside down in parks or piled up in narrow alleys.

With more rain forecast, two small planes were readied to drop sodium chloride to break up potential rain clouds in the skies above the Sunda Strait with a bigger plane on standby, said Indonesia’s technology agency.

This technique, called cloud seeding, means shooting salt flares into clouds in an attempt to trigger rainfall. It is often used in Indonesia to put out forest fires during the dry season, but is also used to cause precipitation earlier than expected. The idea is that rain can be forced out in certain places at certain times, leaving other areas dry.

Authorities on Thursday used hundreds of pumps to suck water out of residential areas and public infrastructure like railways. President Joko Widodo has blamed delays in flood control infrastructure projects for the disaster. Widodo announced in 2019 that he will move Indonesia’s capital to East Kalimantan province on Borneo island to reduce the burden on Jakarta, which is overpopulated and sinking.

Source: Reuters, The guardian and AP

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