Cloud seeding in the United Arab Emirates

Cloud seeding in the United Arab Emirates is a strategy used by the government to address water challenges in the country. The United Arab Emirates is one of the first countries in the Persian Gulf region to use cloud seeding technology. It adopted the latest technologies available on a global level, using sophisticated weather radar to monitor the atmosphere of the country around the clock.[1]

In the UAE, cloud seeding first began as in 2010 as a project by weather authorities to create artificial rain.[2] The project, which began in July 2010 and cost US$11 million, has been successful in creating rain storms in the Dubai and Abu Dhabi deserts.[3] Forecasters and scientists have estimated that cloud seeding operations can enhance rainfall by as much as 30 to 35 percent in a clear atmosphere, and by up to 10 to 15 percent in a turbid atmosphere.[4] In 2014, A total of 187 missions were sent to seed clouds in the UAE with each aircraft taking about three hours to target five to six clouds at a cost of $3,000 per operation.[5] 2017 had 214 missions,[6] 2018 184 missions, and 2019 had 247 missions.[7]

Climate contextEdit

The UAE has an arid climate with less than 100mm per year of rainfall, a high evaporation rate of surface water and a low groundwater recharge rate. Although rainfall in the UAE has been fluctuating over the last few decades in winter season, most of that occurs in the December to March period. During the summer months, the prevailing Indian Monsoon drought effect leads to a build-up of cumulus clouds especially along the mountainous terrain in the eastern UAE.[8]

HistoryEdit

The UAE cloud-seeding Program was initiated in the late 1990s. By early 2001 the Program was being conducted in cooperation with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Colorado, USA, the Witwatersrand University in South Africa and the US Space Agency, NASA.[9]

In 2005, the UAE launched the UAE Prize for Excellence in Advancing the Science and Practice of Weather Modification in collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization[10] (WMO). This prize was thereafter reshaped into the International Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science. It subsequently became the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science in January 2015. The Program for Rain Enhancement Science is an initiative of the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Presidential Affairs. It is overseen by the UAE National Center of Meteorology & Seismology[11] (NCMS) based in Abu Dhabi.[12] Among its key goals are advancing the science, technology and implementation of rain enhancement and encouraging additional investments in research funding and research partnerships to advance the field, increasing rainfall and ensuring water security globally.

Tests of new technologies were done in 2020 with partners in the United States to test the use of nanomaterials for seeding.[13]

January 2020Edit

 
A flooded street in Dubai during the cloud seeding rains

A cloud seeding experiment conducted by the UAE National Center of Meteorology & Seismology as part of The UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science in January 2020 resulted in flooding.[14][15]

On January 9 2020 the National Center of Meteorology & Seismology began five cloud seeding flights in the late afternoon.[16] The center was testing a new technique and material developed by Prof. Linda Zou which “elongates the condensation process [inside clouds] as it enlarges the cloud droplets more than the conventional material… This results in larger numbers of water droplets during rainfall amounting to up to triple times the old method.”[17]

 
Hotel flooding during the cloud seeding rains.

TechnologyEdit

The UAE now has more 75 networked automatic weather stations distributed across the UAE, 7 air quality stations, a sophisticated Doppler weather radar network of five stationary and one mobile radar, and six Beechcraft King Air C90 aircraft for cloud seeding operations. Natural salts such as potassium chloride and sodium chloride are used in these operations.[18]

Since 2021, the country has been using a new technology: drones equipped with a payload of electric-charge emission instruments and customised sensors fly at low altitudes and deliver an electric charge to air molecules.[19] This method produced a significant rainstorm in July 2021.[20] For instance, in Al Ain it rained 6.9 millimetres on 20 - 21 July[21]

At present, the UAE mostly seed with salt particles in the eastern mountains on the border to Oman to raise levels in aquifers and reservoirs.[22]

UAEREPEdit

The United Arab Emirates Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science (UAEREP) is a global research initiative offering a grant of US$5 million over a three-year period to be shared by up to five winning research projects in the field of rain enhancement.

The cloud-seeding operations were initiated in the late 1990s in the UAE. By early 2001 these operations were being conducted in cooperation with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Colorado, USA, the Witwatersrand University in South Africa and the US Space Agency, NASA.[23]
Cloud seeding rains in Dubai

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Cloud Seeding, National Center of Meteorology & Seismology, United Arab Emirates
  2. ^ Kazmi, Aftab. (8 May 2008) Cloud seeding experiment has thundering success" Gulf News. Retrieved 3 April 2012
  3. ^ Sanburn, Josh. (3 January 2011) Scientists create 52 artificial rain storms in Abu Dhabi desert" Time News Feed. Retrieved 3 April 2012
  4. ^ "UAE's Rain Enhancement Program Addresses Key Technical Challenges". Water Online. 22 April 2015.
  5. ^ "Revealed: $558,000 spent on UAE cloud-seeding operations last year". Arabian Business. 28 April 2016.
  6. ^ Duncan, Gillian. "How does cloud-seeding in the UAE work?". The National. Retrieved 2021-01-08.
  7. ^ "(PDF) Cloud Seeding In The UAE Research Paper". ResearchGate. Retrieved 2021-01-08.
  8. ^ "UAE looking at ways to increase rain". Gulf News. 20 January 2015.
  9. ^ "UAE mulls cloud seeding to enhance rainfall". Gulf News. 29 March 2007.
  10. ^ "Prize for Excellence in Advancing the Science and Practice of Weather Modification - Commission for Atmospheric Sciences" (PDF). WMO.int.
  11. ^ "Cloud Seeding, Studies and Assessment". National Center of Meteorology and Seismology.
  12. ^ "Cloud Seeding". National Center of Meteorology and Seismology official website.
  13. ^ "Rain in UAE: UAE tests efficiency of new cloud seeding material in Texas". gulfnews.com. Retrieved 2021-01-08.
  14. ^ Elsa, Evangeline. "Rain in UAE: Yes, we are cloud seeding". Gulf News. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
  15. ^ Mackenzie, Laura. "Bringing in the rain: Has the UAE's cloud-seeding program gone too far?". WIRED. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
  16. ^ Elsa, Evangeline. "Rain in UAE: Yes, we are cloud seeding". Gulf News. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
  17. ^ Mackenzie, Laura. "Bringing in the rain: Has the UAE's cloud-seeding program gone too far?". WIRED. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
  18. ^ "Let it rain in UAE: $5m to stimulate rainfall". Emirates 24/7. February 17, 2015.
  19. ^ "UAE to test cloud-busting drones to boost rainfall". BBC. 17 March 2021. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  20. ^ DOLINER, ANABELLE (21 July 2021). "Dubai Creates Fake Rain Using Drones to Battle 122 Degree Heat". Newskeek. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  21. ^ "Al Ain Historical Weather". World Weather. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  22. ^ "How the UAE is making it rain". Esquire. 1 May 2015.[permanent dead link]
  23. ^ "UAE mulls cloud seeding to enhance rainfall". Gulf News. March 29, 2007.