Jamie Ekness

Date of Award

January 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Atmospheric Sciences

First Advisor

David Delene


The North Dakota farming industry brings in more than $4.1 billion annually in cash receipts. Unfortunately, agriculture sales vary significantly from year to year, which is due in large part to weather events such as hail storms and droughts. One method to mitigate drought is to use hygroscopic seeding to increase the precipitation efficiency of clouds. The North Dakota Atmospheric Research Board (NDARB) sponsored the Polarimetric Cloud Analysis and Seeding Test (POLCAST) research project to determine the effectiveness of hygroscopic seeding in North Dakota. The POLCAST field projects obtained airborne and radar observations, while conducting randomized cloud seeding. The Thunderstorm Identification Tracking and Nowcasting (TITAN) program is used to analyze radar data (33 usable cases) in determining differences in the duration of the storm, rain rate and total rain amount between seeded and non-seeded clouds. The single ratio of seeded to non-seeded cases is 1.56 (0.28 mm/0.18 mm) or 56% increase for the average hourly rainfall during the first 60 minutes after target selection. A seeding effect is indicated with the lifetime of the storms increasing by 41 % between seeded and non-seeded clouds for the first 60 minutes past seeding decision. A double ratio statistic, a comparison of radar derived rain amount of the last 40 minutes of a case (seed/non-seed), compared to the first 20 minutes (seed/non-seed), is used to account for the natural variability of the cloud system and gives a double ratio of 1.85. The Mann-Whitney test on the double ratio of seeded to non-seeded cases (33 cases) gives a significance (p-value) of 0.063. Bootstrapping analysis of the POLCAST set indicates that 50 cases would provide statistically significant results based on the Mann-Whitney test of the double ratio. All the statistical analysis conducted on the POLCAST data set show that hygroscopic seeding in North Dakota does increase precipitation. While an additional POLCAST field project would be necessary to obtain standardly accepted statistically significant results (p<0.5) for the double ratio of precipitation amount, the obtained p-value of 0.063 is close and considering the positive result from other hygroscopic seeding experiments, the North Dakota Cloud Modification Project should consider implementation of hygroscopic seeding.