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HAARP: An Instrument for Modifying Weather?

The High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) was a science project funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), University of Alaska Fairbanks, U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Air Force. Its stated objective was to study the earth’s ionosphere. However, HAARP is popular for a different reason. Many people believe that the program’s real agenda was to create technology to control the weather.


HAARP weather modification


The HAARP project started in 1990. Three years later, construction of the HAARP facility began. After almost two decades of operation, the facility was doomed to be shut down as the military apparently lost “interest.” But in 2015, the military transferred HAARP facilities to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which runs the entire project as of now.


Its focus on studying the ionosphere stems from the fact that this section of the atmosphere plays an important role in the transmission of radio signals. The U.S. military wanted to send radio beams into the ionosphere and study the responses. By doing so, it was thought that a stronger communication network could be developed. Solar flares typically send particles toward the Earth that enter the ionosphere and disrupt communications. The military hoped that the project could find solutions to stop such disruptions. 


Its focus on studying the ionosphere stems from the fact that this section of the atmosphere plays an important role in the transmission of radio signals. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)
Its focus on studying the ionosphere stems from the fact that this section of the atmosphere plays an important role in the transmission of radio signals. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)


Ever since it was initiated, HAARP has been accused of being a weapon capable of modifying weather and wreaking havoc. American physicist Bernard J. Eastlund had claimed that HAARP technology was mostly based on his patents and it had the ability to not only change the weather, but also neutralize satellites. Former governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura has also questioned HAARP’s real objective. His request to visit the research station was rejected by the authorities. Even the European Union had declared the HAARP project a global concern way back in 1999.


Some say that HAARP was used in the 2011 earthquake and the tsunami in Japan. Even formation of Hurricane Katrina, the category 5 hurricane that ravaged America in 2005, has been ascribed to the use of HAARP. Though concrete proof that incriminates HAARP as being responsible for such catastrophic events is yet to be discovered, the fact that the U.S. has tried to use weather modification in one of its wars in the past makes it difficult for some people to write off such claims as just conspiracy theories.


Operation Popeye


The Vietnam War is etched into every American’s memory. However, what many don’t know is that the war is also the only known instance of the U.S. military weaponizing weather.


Weather modification was used in the Vietnam war. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)


Operation Popeye, a project that cost US$15 million over a period of five years, used cloud seeding technology to induce rain. This was done to soften roads, wash out river crossings, create mudslides, and worsen soggy conditions in the region. The aim was to slow down the enemy and give the U.S. a tactical advantage.


A report on the program’s effectiveness raised doubts about whether it did have any positive effect. However, some historians argue that the extra 35 inches of rain received in the region during the war was a result of the cloud seeding program carried by the U.S. military.


Use of weather modification in the Vietnam War raised concerns among several nations. Many feared that technology could create irregularities in the natural order. As a consequence, the United Nations passed a resolution in 1977 that prohibited countries from modifying weather with any malicious intent. Today, cloud seeding is largely used to deal with issues of water shortage. 

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