Statistical Evaluation of Cloud Seeding Operations in Central Plateau of Iran in the 2015 Water Year

Document Type : Research

Authors

1 Associate Professor, School of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

2 Post-Doc Researcher, Water Institute, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

3 Assistant Professor, School of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

4 Professor, School of Engineering Science, College of Engineering, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

Abstract

Iran is located in an arid and semi-arid region and has experienced a reduction of average rainfall in recent years. This has turned the attention to the use of new methods such as cloud seeding to achieve more water resources. In this regard, cloud seeding operations have been carried out in the country since 1998. The purpose of this study was to evaluate cloud seeding projects in the 2015 water year (January, February, and March 2015) in the central region of Iran, including the provinces of Yazd, Kerman, Fars, Isfahan, and some adjacent provinces. The evaluation was performed statistically using stepwise multiple regression. Two different approaches have been used for evaluation. In the first approach, precipitation at stations located in the target area of cloud seeding operations is estimated based on the precipitation at stations in the control area using stepwise multiple regression and then taking into account a 90% confidence interval for this estimate, the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the cloud seeding operation at each station is determined. In the second approach, the volume of precipitation in each province in the target area is estimated based on the precipitation in stations outside in the control area using stepwise multiple regression and then by considering a 90% confidence interval for this estimate, the effectiveness of cloud seeding operations on the rainfall volume of each province has been investigated. The target area in different months was selected based on the HYSPLIT model results. Due to the inconsistent spatial distribution of rain gauges in the target areas, parts of the target areas lacking enough rain gauges were excluded from further analysis. To define the boundaries of the exclusion areas, Inverse Distance Weighted (IDW) method was used to find the influence of the radius around each rain gauge. The influence radius values were selected as 93940, 89569, and 149015 m for the months of January, February, and March, respectively. Finally, the minimum value of 89569 m was selected as the influence radius. The results of both methods indicate the impact of cloud seeding operations this year in these areas. In particular, the volume of precipitation in February in all provinces located in the target area of cloud seeding operations has increased from 15 to 80 percent. Surface runoff generated from the increased precipitation due to cloud seeding were estimated by the two methods of Soil Conservation Service (SCS) and Rational method. The estimated surface runoffs generated by SCS and rational methods were 1318.5 and 1329.5 million m3, respectively. The groundwater recharge in the three months of January, February, and March is estimated as 105.3, 425.6, and 156.3 million m3, respectively. It is important to note that runoff and groundwater recharge estimations by the method used in this study are subject to high uncertainties, and the estimations can only represent the order of magnitude of impacts of cloud seeding operations, and therefore, exact numbers should not be used for water resources planning and management purposes. Further investigation in areas with more rain gauges can assist in a more accurate assessment of could seeding operations.

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