Project Skywater, an atmospheric research program slated to begin this spring, will investigate basic precipitation problems, including the formation of raindrops, mechanisms by which air outside rainclouds mixes with air inside, atmospheric processes that lead to the birth and growth of a storm, and the origins of ice. These fundamental problems ‘stand in the way of evaluating the potential of weather modification techniques and of predicting precipitation and severe weather,’ according to Bernard A. Silverman, project head.
As part of the project, researchers will work this summer on the Cooperative Convective Precipitation Experiment (CCOPE). Based in Miles City, Montana, CCOPE will study the lifetimes of summer clouds. The work will focus on the major natural processes that lead to precipitation in large cloud systems. In addition, researchers will investigate cloud chemistry and lightning's effect on rainfall.