Quantifying snowfall from orographic cloud seeding

Katja Friedrich, Kyoko Ikeda, Sarah A. Tessendorf, Jeffrey R. French, Robert M. Rauber, Bart Geerts, Lulin Xue, Roy M. Rasmussen, Derek R. Blestrud, Melvin L. Kunkel, Nicholas Dawson, Shaun Parkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Climate change and population growth have increased demand for water in arid regions. For over half a century, cloud seeding has been evaluated as a technology to increase water supply; statistical approaches have compared seeded to nonseeded events through precipitation gauge analyses. Here, a physically based approach to quantify snowfall from cloud seeding in mountain cloud systems is presented. Areas of precipitation unambiguously attributed to cloud seeding are isolated from natural precipitation (<1 mm h−1). Spatial and temporal evolution of precipitation generated by cloud seeding is then quantified using radar observations and snow gauge measurements. This study uses the approach of combining radar technology and precipitation gauge measurements to quantify the spatial and temporal evolution of snowfall generated from glaciogenic cloud seeding of winter mountain cloud systems and its spatial and temporal evolution. The results represent a critical step toward quantifying cloud seeding impact. For the cases presented, precipitation gauges measured increases between 0.05 and 0.3 mm as precipitation generated by cloud seeding passed over the instruments. The total amount of water generated by cloud seeding ranged from 1.2 × 105 m3 (100 ac ft) for 20 min of cloud seeding, 2.4 × 105 m3 (196 ac ft) for 86 min of seeding to 3.4 x 105 m3 (275 ac ft) for 24 min of cloud seeding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5190-5195
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 10 2020


  • Cloud seeding
  • Clouds
  • Gauge observations
  • Precipitation
  • Radar observations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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