Cloud Seeding UAE: All You Want to Know

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Impacting the weather sounds like something from a sci-fi movie. Cloud seeding to change weather began its history as a serious science during the second world war. Its original purpose was to interrupt severe storms or produce rain and snow.  Cloud seeding UAE was implemented in the nineties. Since then, it is operational to keep up with the increased demand for freshwater. Therefore, every rainfall in the country leads to many talks about cloud seeding in the UAE

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You may name it cloud seeding, artificial rain, or rainmaking, but not many people know how it works or its purpose. So, here’s all that you need to know about cloud seeding in UAE or artificial rain in the UAE.

What is Cloud Seeding UAE?

Cloud seeding is a technique to enhance the clouds with condensation nuclei, creating the ideal atmosphere to improve rain yield in the clouds. Cloud seeding is not synonymous with “creating” or “making” rain. Instead, the process engineers heavy clouds to expedite the condensation and enhance rainfall.

Worldwide cloud seeding method  battles droughts and weather extremities. Cloud seeding in the UAE is not a new phenomenon and is operational for over two decades now.

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Cloud seeding is a technique for modifying weather to change the type or amount of precipitation that falls from clouds. It is done by dispersing substances into the air that serve as cloud condensation or ice nuclei. The primary objective is to increase precipitation, either for its own sake or to prevent rain from occurring days afterward. Consequently, it alters the microphysical processes within the cloud.

However, the experts have diverse views about its effectiveness. Few studies have reported that it is not easy to show clearly that cloud seeding has a tremendous effect.

History of Cloud Seeding UAE

Cloud seeding in the UAE is a strategy followed by the government of UAE for addressing the food and 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.

Cloud seeding in UAE first began in 2010 as a project by weather authorities to create artificial rain. The project started in July 2010 and cost US$11 million.  It has been successful in creating rainstorms in the Dubai and Abu Dhabi deserts.

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Experts have estimated that cloud seeding operations can enhance rainfall by 30 to 35 percent in a clear atmosphere. Additionally, it will enhance and up to 10 to 15 percent in a turbid atmosphere. In 2014, there were 187 missions to seed clouds in the UAE, with each aircraft taking about three hours to target five to six clouds at the cost of $3,000 per operation. 

With each subsequent year, there has been a steady increase in cloud seeding; 2017 had 214 missions,2018 had 184 missions, and 2019 had 247 missions.

Importance of Cloud Seeding UAE?

As per the reports released by the UN, 14 percent of the world population will face scarcity of water by 2025. Particularly, the water shortage will worsen in arid areas like the UAE. The UAE gets about 120 mm of annual rainfall. The initiative is an essential part of the UAE government’s attempt to deal with the growing population’s existing and future water needs.

In 1990, the government of UAE launched UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science (UAEREP). The program employs time-evolving technologies and practices to create an additional water source for the UAE. No doubt, there are other methods to get tangible water sources like desalination plants for the UAE. However, if you compare the costs, cloud seeding in the UAE costs significantly much less than desalination. The cost of extracting 1000 liters of water via cloud seeding costs around AED 4, while the desalination costs almost AED 220. 

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The UAEREP undertook almost 200 rainmaking missions in 2020, out of which UAERP carried out eight in October 2019. In addition, the seeding operations in October helped the UAE collect 6.7 million cubic meters of water in reserve. Consequently, these statistics demonstrate the significance and advantages of artificial rain in the UAE. 

In addition to less than 120mm per year of rainfall, the UAE has an arid climate with ll, a low groundwater recharge rate, and a high evaporation rate of surface water. Although rainfall has fluctuated in the UAE over the last few decades in the winter season, most of that occurs between December to March. During the months of summer, the prevailing Indian Monsoon drought effect leads to a build-up of cumulus clouds, especially along the mountainous terrain in the eastern UAE.

How is Cloud Seeding UAE Done?

The farsightedness of the UAE has always been admired worldwide. UAE has been one of the first countries in the Middle East to adopt cloud seeding technology for increasing its existing sources of water sources. The UAE uses the latest technologies paired with sophisticated radars to observe the atmosphere and the related changes. The three techniques employed for cloud seeding in UAE are as follows

Cloud Seeding Via Air

The most frequently used cloud seeding technique in the UAE is using an aircraft to drop the condensation nuclei. The condensation nuclei are composed of salts of magnesium, potassium chloride, and sodium chloride. They are fitted into flares that are loaded on the airplane. These flares accelerate condensation when they are released into the clouds. Subsequently, it forms water droplets weighing just enough to create rainfall.  

Clouds have two masses of air in the atmosphere, namely, the lower draft and the upper draft. The flares are dropped into the upper draft that sucks them in as they burn the salt particles. Subsequently, the burnt salt particles attach to the moisture droplets already present in the clouds. Consequently, it results in the formation of bigger and heavier rain droplets due to condensation. 

National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) targets the dense clouds moving over the Arabian Gulf for cloud seeding. It attempts to increase rainfall yield by at least 15 percent for cloud seeding in the UAE, the (NCM)

Cloud Seeding From Land

The second method of cloud seeding used in the UAE is the weather modification system. This system involves ground generators that are currently placed in the mountainous terrains of the Hafeet and Fujairah areas. These generators shoot salt flares into the clouds from the ground instead of dropping them from the plane for increased rains. 

Cloud Seeding using Nano-Technology

UAE is always in search of new and efficient technologies to attain self-sufficiency in food and water security. NCM is now experimenting with a new cloud seeding method involving nano-technology. The eastern and northern regions of the UAE have been tested with this technology. NCM hopes to make cloud seeding in UAE more effective. Subsequently, they plan to achieve more rainfall by using this technology.  

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This new cloud seeding technology uses salt crystals enclosed in titanium dioxide nanoparticle veneers as opposed to flares. These crystals injected into the existing clouds. makes raindrops denser. Subsequently, it increases the chances for rainfall.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cloud Seeding 

Like every technique, Cloud Seeding has both advantages as well as disadvantages. The advantages include 

  1. This technique produces clouds and brings rain to the drought-prone areas for better rain and boosting crop yield. 
  2. It helps in reduction of the size of hailstones where hailstones precipitate in large size. 
  3. Cloud seeding assists in reduction of the fog in some airports which has been a cause of mishaps in airports. 
  4. It clears the air in the fields during matches or concerts. 
  5. Where there is rain, there is farm produce. Farms that yield better can help the local economy and feed the people and animals. It can significantly improve the living conditions in dry, arid places.
  6. Cloud seeding assists in essential rain for keeping the area hydrated and fertile for growing crops.

Cloud seeding has the following disadvantages.

  1. Chemicals used in cloud seeding can potentially damage the environment. Silver iodide may cause iodine poisoning where the patient exhibits a running nose, headache, skin rash, anemia, and diarrhea.
  2.  It is costly to produce artificial rain. 
  3.  If not regulated or appropriately controlled, cloud seeding may cause undesirable if not altogether lousy weather conditions such as flooding, storms, hail risks, etc.

Bottom Line

Artificial rain using cloud seeding in UAE has helped them battle extreme weather and temperature and create favorable environmental conditions. Due to cloud seeding, the UAE enjoys recurring rainfall regularly. There may be times when heavy rainfalls lead to slight inconveniences in everyday life.

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However, if you know how to deal with the rain, you can keep yourself and people around you safe. UAE is determined to excel in social and economic standards. and become one of the best places to live on Earth. It plans to boost agriculture in the UAE by using new and modern technologies like vertical farming, hydroponics to name a few, and cloud seeding can play a very crucial role in it. With this technology, UAE aims to break away from the total dependency of other countries on food.

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