Current weather news on the 2008 Beijing Olympics
Should it unexpectedly start raining at anytime during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, don't blame the weathercaster -- blame the military.
In an effort to ensure clear skies during Asia's rainy season, Chinese meteorologists are planning to fire rockets into the sky to disperse rain clouds. Once the rockets are launched into the upper atmosphere, silver iodide and dry ice contained inside will detonate, and the resulting explosion could conceivably destroy rain clouds below.
William Brune, head of Penn State University's meteorology department, said the process is technically feasible, but he remains skeptical about its effectiveness.
"What this process is trying to do is distribute the water among the cloud to make it hard for the water molecules to come together to make rain drops," he said. "It is very hard to prove you've actually done anything at all, and there isn't any indisputable evidence that this actually works." (ABC News)
Beijing sizzled in 37.2-degree Celsius (98 Fahrenheit) heat in May 2007, the highest for the month since 1951.
The new heat-stroke index would break down the impact of high temperatures by age and sex, the report quoted Huang Zhuo, a researcher at the national meteorological centre as saying.
It could be added to weather forecasts before the Olympics, Huang added.
China decided to move the start of the 2008 Olympics from late July to August 8 because data indicated that there was less chance of rain then, but temperatures will be high in a city known for its hot summers. (Xinhua)
The Beijing Meteorological Observatory has been widely criticized for giving erroneous temperature forecasts from Sunday to Tuesday. The temperature it forecast for Tuesday was a full 6.2 degrees Celsius higher than the actual temperature and 5 degrees higher than on Sunday.
The false forecasts have triggered harsh words from Beijingers and some are doubtful if the meteorological departments will be able to produce a reliable forecasting service during the Olympics.
"Accurate weather forecasting will play a key role in hosting a successful Olympic Games and we started preparations in 2002 to improve our accuracy," said Ding Deping, director of Beijing Meteorological Observatory.
"However, Beijing's weather is very changeable in July and August and it poses a big challenge for Chinese meteorologists to forecast correctly during the Olympics," said Ding.
The Beijing Olympics will run from August 8 to 24 - the city sees about 40 to 50 percent of its annual precipitation during the same month.
The timing of the apology is nothing short of embarrassing for Beijing meteorological officials. On Wednesday, chief weatherman Sun Jisong of the Beijing Meteorological Bureau said, "Normally, weather services only tell people the possibility of rainfall, rough estimates of wind scale and temperature. During the Olympics, we will forecast the exact time of rainfall and be accurate to within minutes," Sun said.
It is not clear how far in advance weather forecasters will be able to issue forecasts for specific Olympic venues.
Deputy chief engineer Wang Yubin, with the Beijing Meteorological Bureau, said, "Issuing weather forecasts over the Olympics will be very labor intensive and will require considerable expertise by local forecasters. But a shortage of skilled weathermen will be a major hindrance."
Hundreds of experienced weathermen will be loaned out to the Beijing Meteorological Bureau to cope with the 17-day event, the Beijing Daily has reported. (Xinhua)
More than 2 million flowering plants specially bred for 2008Olympics were presented to city residents as China marks a one-year countdown to the Games.
Forty-eight varieties of flowers featuring 132 colors, including maidenhair, marigold and petunias, which usually come into flower in May or October are displayed in full blossom in three areas:
Li Xinmin, head of the Huaxiang committee of the Communist Party of China, said about 60 million flowers were needed to decorate parts of the city during next year's Olympic Games.
"However, few flower types are able to cope with Beijing's heat and humidity," said Li, adding Huaxiang was charged with the task to research and breed flowers for the Games in 2005.
Botanists had experimented with biological means to introduce florescence to an oppressive summer, Li said.
Chrysanthemums, a symbol of dignity in Chinese culture, and Chinese roses are on a list of Olympic flowers thanks to their status as "flowers of the city", titles bestowed by Beijing residents in 1986. Also on the list are peony and calla.
"The blossoms are durable," said Zhao Ying, head of the flower breeding research team. "Olympic flowers can resist heat, strong sunlight and drought."
Landscape engineers would introduce more flower types from other parts of the country through crossbreeding to produce flowers that could blossom in the heat of August, experts said. (Xinhua)
Weather forecasts for the Beijing Olympic Games will be performed using an IBM supercomputer that can provide hourly forecasts for each square kilometer, making it easier to plan for disruptions to specific events.
The large-scale forecasts made by China's national weather service are not detailed enough for next year's Olympic Games, so the Beijing Meteorological Bureau has bought an IBM System p575. It's the same type of computer used by the U.S. National Weather Service and about 35 other weather-forecasting sites around the world, says David Blaskovich, IBM's Deep Computing weather specialist, who is based in Monterey, Calif.
Detailed wind forecasts will make it easier to prepare for sailing events, while general forecasts of temperature, humidity and heat index could help maintain the safety and comfort of athletes and spectators. Beijing is also using the system for air quality predictions. (ABC News)
Not content with simply making it rain, now China's weather modifiers have taken on another meteorological mission: to help guarantee perfect weather when Beijing hosts the Olympic Games in 2008. "In China, we havenít done this type of thing on a very large scale yet," says Zhang during an interview in a west Beijing compound housing five antiaircraft guns used to shoot chemicals into the clouds. "The Russians have experience creating good weather, and we can learn something from them. We still have two more years for testing. Iím sure our preparations for the Games will go well."
Zhang's office, which employs 30 people, is part of the Beijing municipal government and the nationwide China Meteorological Administration. Her unit uses two aircraft and 20 artillery and rocket-launching bases to help modify weather around the city. Springtime is the busiest season for agricultural purposes. But more and more, Zhang and her colleagues are experimenting with weather modification to try to create blue skies. Toward this end, theyíve spent nearly a month and a half total researching the effects of certain chemical activators on different sizes of cloud formations and at different altitudes. Chinese meteorologists claim that similar efforts helped create good weather for a number of past VIP events in China, including the World Expo in Yunnan, the Asian Games. (MSNBC)
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