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Anti-hail gun test by Himachal Pradesh

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

Anti-hail gun test by Himachal Pradesh:


Context:

To help out horticulturists who face crop damage due to hailstorms, the Himachal Pradesh government will be testing the use of indigenously developed ‘anti-hail guns’.

Firstly, what is hail?

Hail is produced by cumulonimbus clouds, which are generally large and dark and may cause thunder and lightning.

  • In such clouds, winds can blow up the water droplets to heights where they freeze into ice. The frozen droplets begin to fall but are soon pushed back up by the winds and more droplets freeze onto them, resulting in multiple layers of ice on the hailstones.
  • This fall and rise is repeated several times, till the hailstones become too heavy and fall down.

What are ‘anti-hail guns’?

  • An anti-hail gun is a machine which generates shock waves to disrupt the growth of hailstones in clouds.
  • It comprises a tall, fixed structure somewhat resembling an inverted tower, several metres high, with a long and narrow cone opening towards the sky.
  • The gun is “fired” by feeding an explosive mixture of acetylene gas and air into its lower chamber, which releases a shock wave (waves which travel faster than the speed of sound, such as those produced by supersonic aircraft).
  • These shock waves supposedly stop water droplets in clouds from turning into hailstones, so that they fall simply as raindrops.

But, what is the need? Why is hail a big issue in HP?

Every summer from March to May, frequent hailstorms in the fruit-growing areas of Himachal destroy apples, pears and other crops, causing massive losses to farmers. In some hail-prone areas such as Narkanda and Theog, the entire apple crop in an orchard may sometimes get destroyed during such storms.

 

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Prelims Link:

  1. Operating mechanism of anti-hail guns.
  2. Conditions favorable for the formation of hailstorm.
  3. What are cumulonimbus clouds?
  4. Apple growing regions in the country.

Sources: Indian Express.