Experts from around the world are to gather at the World Meteorological Organisation next month to discuss how powerful laser pulses can be used to generate changes in the atmosphere that influence the weather.
Their experiments have shown that intense pulses of light can cause ice to form and water to condense, leading to the formation of clouds.
The scientists have now begun testing their equipment outside for the first time with extremely short pulses of laser light were fired into the sky.
Researchers have also proved that lightning discharges can be triggered and channelled through the air using laser pulses. They hope the technology could allow lightning during thunderstorms to be guided away from sensitive buildings such as power plants or airports.
It could also be used to manipulate the weather by creating clouds and triggering rainfall ahead of major public events.
Professor Jean-Pierre Wolf and Dr Jerome Kasparian, both biophotonics experts at the University of Geneva, have now organized a conference at the WMO next month in an attempt to find ways of speeding up research on the topic. They said: “Ultra-short lasers launched into the atmosphere have emerged as a promising prospective tool for weather modulation and climate studies.