Meteorologists first conceived of seeding clouds as a way to increase rainfall in 1946, working at General Electric’s laboratories in Schenectady, New York. But in the nearly 60 years since then, it has remained unclear whether human attempts to make it snow actually work.
Now, the results of the most scientific study of cloud seeding done yet are in. Researchers found that seeding clouds with droplets of silver iodide does slightly increase precipitation, boosting levels by 5 to 15 percent. However, experts disagree about whether this small increase means cloud-seeding efforts should expand.

In Western states, water providers, ski areas and power companies interested in hydroelectric generation have all injected silver iodide droplets into winter clouds for decades. In those areas, the winter snows that collect on mountain ranges provide upward of 70 percent of annual precipitation. The idea is that the droplets provide a nucleus within a cloud around which water can coalesce, forming snowflakes.

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