by Lauren Clark
Las Vegas, NV (KSNV) — Gazing at this majestic view, Pauline van Betten with Save Red Rock can get emotional.
“Red Rock Canyon is a treasure,” she said. “It’s a national treasure.”
But she says the impact of the prolonged drought is significant in the area.
“The people that go out to Red Rock Canyon regularly have seen the Joshua trees are brown,” she said. “The desert is brown. And we know the animals are moving into the communities in Las Vegas looking for water.”
“That’s dire,” she said. “That’s dire.”
That’s why Save Red Rock, in partnership with Desert Research Institute, think they have a way to help: cloud seeding. The two groups are working together on a fundraising effort for a cloud seeding campaign for Red Rock Canyon.
“It’s a way to enhance a cloud’s ability to produce precipitation,” said Frank McDonough, a research scientist and cloud physicist at DRI. “You have clouds that are full of these tiny water drops where they are below freezing. And if you can introduce ice crystals into those types of clouds, then those ice crystals will quickly grow into snowflakes’ sizes and fall out.”
He acknowledges that technology does have its limits. Conditions for cloud seeding need to be just right: You need to have a storm, lower level clouds, at cooler temperatures.
“We need clouds below freezing, and we need them to have water drops, subfreezing water drops,” he said. “There will be a few storms we won’t be able to seed, but I think the majority of them we will.”
He says the goal is to track storms and weather patterns, and when conditions are right, use a cloud seeding generator to burst the particles into the atmosphere.
As for van Betten, she says every drop will count.
“To be able to assist Red Rock Canyon through this drought period is paramount,” she said. “And since we have the ability, we need to take the ability!”
The fundraiser’s goal is $150,000 to meet by October 1st. The groups will also have a webinar about cloud seeding on Thursday, September 8th at 10 a.m. to ask questions. Visit the Save Red Rock website to learn more about the fundraiser.