Michael Fallwell's projects:

Drought Reduction * Glider powered windmill * Folded Newtonian Design * The secret of Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT)


Drought Reduction


A number of positive feedback loops that tend to reinforce drought have recently been pointed to. This paper will develop an approach to water management that supports, both human activities and environmental resources in drought years.

The primary process that drives global climate is the ocean-solar system, the evaporation of ocean water by sunlight, carrying moisture inland. The ocean absorbs most of the solar energy but only ten percent of it results in rain.

Evaporation from the ocean surface is actually very slow. Most of the surface is prevented from evaporation by a boundary layer of moist stagnant air that does not mix with the dry air moving above it, this air layer acts like a greenhouse to heat the ocean surface. Eventually the bulk of the solar heat diffuses down into the water mass where it is not as accessible to the atmosphere. If this heat can be released as vapor, before it dissipates it could be used to produce or enhance existing storm systems.

Existing hydropower production currently is severely limited, because the needs of agriculture, flood prevention, and drought management have priority over electric generation. Increasing precipitation would dramatically increase hydropower production.

To give some perspective, the thermal mass of one foot of water is equal to three thousand feet of air, so an ocean layer six feet deep can store as much heat as eighteen thousand feet of air. Hurricanes have been known to tap ocean heat from as deep as a hundred feet.

The mass of one cubic yard of air is about two pounds. Clouds are usually perceived as insubstantial objects but even the smallest ones, say a cubic mile, have about five million tons. If it has one percent water it will contain one billion gallons of water. Weather systems are often a million times as massive. The energy and mass in the environment still dominate those of the economy!

Proposal for rainfall enhancement

Deploy a fleet of small ships, equipped with large pumps, for spraying water placed and timed to take the best advantage of unstable wind and water temperature conditions. The evaporation of water sprayed into the air will reduce the density of air above the boundary layer, causing it to rise. Air drawn in at the sides will become turbulent, breaking up the boundary conditions. When this layer is removed, evaporation will become continuous. As the size of the rising air mass increases so will the wind speeds and the rate of evaporation. This "avalanche effect" is similar to the ones that cause large storm development.

Spray boats moving across the wind, will spray strips sixty feet wide by thirty feet high. The air in a sixty foot length will mass about eight thousand pounds. It will take about four thousand pounds of water to saturate this mass. So a boat moving thirty knots will need about three hundred horse power for the spray pump. Vortex action may allow the boats to be spaced miles apart, triggering action over a very large area.

A large dense weather system, like the monsoon, will give a more efficient extraction of water from the air mass than a smaller storm. So a small increase in the strength of the monsoon, should give a disproportionate increase in water yield.

The spray boats consume a minimal amount of fuel compared to the added hydropower, since they release an avalanche of heat flow from the water. The cost of this method of water management may be much less than cloud seeding, which is not productive in drought years.

Benefits and Advantages

Increased water supplies for agriculture and domestic use, reducing water costs

Wetter wilderness areas, improving habitat for wildlife

Increase in vegetation biomass, reducing global warming by uptake of CO2

Increase in hydro-electric power production, reducing reliance on fossil fuels

No capital cost - ships can be rented


Availability of water is the key to both a healthy environment and economic resources that must be preserved for future generations. Drought reduction, habitat expansion and an increase in electric power production will increase the quality of life globally, for rich and poor alike. We would strongly recommend further investigation of this approach.


Please contact me by email: mike_fallwell@yahoo.com