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Video shows atmospheric research plane, not geoengineering

Posts sharing a video of a Cessna plane claim it shows evidence of geoengineering and suggest this is a factor in climate change. This is misleading -- the aircraft shown in the clip is equipped for atmospheric research, experts told AFP, and the company operating it conducts "cloud seeding" projects that do not have the capacity to trigger major weather events or induce global warming.

"Everyone Wanted To See Proof Of The Geoengineering Weather Manipulation Planes With Chemicals Attached To The Wings, Here's Video Proof!!" says a March 14, 2024 post on X from Wall Street Apes, an account that AFP has repeatedly fact-checked for spreading misinformation.

"Everyone Better Share & Bookmark This So As Many People See It As Possible Before Getting Nuked."

Similar posts with the video have circulated elsewhere online.

"'Climate Change' that conveniently comes from planes," says Liz Churchill, a self-described Canadian "conspiracy theorist," in a March 14 post on X.

<span>Screenshot of a post on X taken March 20, 2024</span>
Screenshot of a post on X taken March 20, 2024

The posts echo conspiracy theories about fabricated extreme weather events and refer to cloud seeding (archived here), a technique used for decades.

The strategy introduces compounds into existing clouds to stimulate precipitation above small geographic areas. Several western US states prone to drought have adopted or expanded programs that involve the technique (archived here).

However, experts told AFP the clip in the posts is unrelated to cloud seeding and other weather modification methods.

Additionally, cloud seeding cannot induce large-scale weather events or climate change, as some posts sharing the clip imply.

"Cloud seeding cannot create weather -- it can only enhance weather that is existing, exactly when it is occurring," Kala Golden, a cloud seeding program manager for the state of Idaho, previously told AFP.

Using a Google keyword search, AFP identified the type of plane shown in the video as a Cessna Citation (archived here). Researchers at the University of North Dakota (UND) used the modified aircraft for a 2019 thunderstorm project (archived here).

UND research professor David Delene (archived here) confirmed the Department of Atmospheric Sciences used the plane, although it did not film the clip shared on social media.

"The aircraft is a research aircraft used for many types of cloud physics research programs," Delene told AFP on March 19.

He said the university owned the plane until 2016, when it sold the jet to Weather Modification Incorporated,whose name is seen on the craft.

"UND contracted for use of the aircraft in 2019 for the CapeEx19 project," Delene said.

Weather Modification Incorporated does experiment with cloud seeding (archived here), but Delene said the plane "is not set up to conduct cloud seeding or weather modification."

"What is shown in the video are instruments for measurement of atmospheric and cloud micro-physical parameters," the professor added, pointing to a scientific paper (archived here) describing the components under the Cessna's wings as particle-measuring canisters.

Sarah Tessendorf, a scientist with the US National Center for Atmospheric Research (archived here), agreed.

"Those canisters and probes shown below the wings are all standard atmospheric science and cloud physics instrumentation for atmospheric research that we use to better understand the clouds and their characteristics," she told AFP on March 19.

"Those canisters do not emit any particles or chemicals; they are sampling the atmosphere."

AFP contacted Weather Modification Incorporated for a comment, but a response was not forthcoming.

AFP has debunked other claims about weather and climate change here.