3 Jun 2022 18:43

Yakutia stages artificial rain inducement experiment at Putin's behest

MOSCOW. June 3 (Interfax) - Yakutia is going to conduct an experiment in artificial inducement of precipitation to prevent forest fires this year, the Kremlin's website said.

"The Russian government, jointly with the head of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), are to ensure the conduct in 2022 of an experiment in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) implementing measures of artificial inducement of precipitation for the purposes of preventing forest fires," according to a list of instructions issued by President Vladimir Putin regarding forest fire prevention and response.

The authorities are to report back to the president by December 15.

At a meeting with the president on May 10 to discuss the fire situation in the regions, Yakutia governor Aisen Nikolayev suggested using artificially induced precipitation for firefighting in hard-to-access parts of the country, in particular in so-called "control zones." The pilot could be launched in Yakutia, he said.

On May 13 Deputy Prime Minister Viktoria Abramchenko said that an experiment in fighting forest fires using artificial rain would be held in Yakutia by the end of 2022.

"Aisen Sergeyevich proposed using aircraft for artificial inducement of precipitation already after a fire broke out, but also doing so to downgrade the fire risk, i.e. to work preventively, to prevent a breakout in the first place. And this is right, this has our backing, we have agreed to conduct the experiment in Yakutia in 2022," Abramchenko told Rossiya-24 (VGTRK) television channel.

Last year's plans for "more" use of this method to fight forest fires in the region were thwarted by abnormally high temperatures which made it impossible to extract the needed atmospheric moisture, the official said.

She also recalled that Yakutia accounts for 80% of all wildfires nationwide.

Also on May 13, the media reported, citing Yakutia's first deputy prime minister Dmitry Sadovnikov, that a Yak-42 cloud-seeding aircraft had arrived in the region and would be joined later by an Antonov An-30 for artificial rain inducement.

The region recorded this year's first wildfires in mid-May. In 2021, Yakutia registered a total fire area of almost 8.5 million hectares, its highest in a decade. This year the region is forecast to have another hot summer.