In the USSR, sustained interest in weather modification predated WWII. Beginning with the establishment of Leningrad's Institute of Rainmaking in 1932, work on cloud modification moved outside the laboratory, with airborne cloud seeding experiments using calcium chloride beginning as early as 1934 and continuing until 1939 (Zikeev and Doumani, 1967). Work resumed immediately after the war with tests of cloud seeding using dry ice (1947) and silver iodide (1949). In the 1950s and early 1960s Soviet interest in climate and weather modification reached its zenith. A single experiment during the winter of 1960-61, for example, is reported to have cleared clouds over an area of 20000 km2.
In the United States, despite common use of the phrase "weather and climate modification", the emphasis was almost entirely on weather control, particularly on the enhancement of precipitation. In contrast, in the USSR there was sustained interest in climate modification, although the bulk of the effort was likewise devoted to weather modification. Climate modification appears to have attracted significant government interest and research funding. In 1961, for example, the 22nd Congress of the Soviet Communist Party listed the development of climate-control methods among the most urgent problems of Soviet science (Fletcher, 1968).
Taking the 51 abstracts on climate modification cataloged by Zikeev as a guide (Zikeev and Doumani, 1967), we find that most of the work during this period addressed the possibility of climate change owing to hydrological modifications such as the construction of large reservoirs and the physical or chemical control of evaporation. There was also persistent interest in the grand project of removing the arctic sea ice to warm Russia. The analysis of the day showed that "the annihilation of the ice cover of the Arctic would be permanent: once destroyed it would never be re-established". (Joint Publications Research Service, 1963, p. 7).
Plans for global climate modification attracted occasional interest, perhaps the most extravagant being the proposals to place aerosol "Saturn rings" in earth orbit to heat and illuminate the polar regions. Independent proposals in 1958 and 1960 called for the injection of metallic aerosols into near-earth orbit to form rings that would supply heat and light to northern Russia or would shadow equatorial regions to provide their inhabitants with the supposed benefits of a temperate climate (Rusin and Flit, 1960).
The triumphant tone of Soviet thinking during the period is well captured in the concluding paragraph of Man Versus Climate (Rusin and Flit, 1960). "Our little book is now at an end. We have described those mysteries of nature already penetrated by science, the daring projects put forward for transforming our planet, and the fantastic dreams to be realized in the future. Today we are merely on the threshold of the conquest of nature. But if, on turning the last page, the reader is convinced that man can really be the master of this planet and that the future is in his hands, then the authors will consider that they have fulfilled their purpose."
In the absence of a thorough historical study, one may speculate about the roots of post-war Soviet interest in climate modification. Three preconditions seem relevant: (a) a social climate in which demonstration of technological power expressed in rapid industrial expansion and in the "space race" was central to state ideology, (b) a natural climate that is harsh by European standards, and finally, (c) the existence of relevant scientific expertise.
Discussions of inadvertent climate modification, and of the potentially harmful side effects of deliberate modifications, punctuate the Soviet literature on climate and weather modification as they did in the United States. For example, perhaps the earliest proposal to engineer a cooling to counter the climatic warming caused by industrial progress was made in 1964 (Zikeev and Doumani, 1967), roughly coincident with similar proposals in the United States.
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