Creating Artificial Rain: The UAE Has Announced Cloud-Seeding Tests as Part of Its Attempt

By Staff Writer, 04 September 2023

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has embarked on a series of cloud-seeding experiments aimed at advancing its understanding of artificial rain within the nation, as seen on Arabian Business.

Announced by the National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) through the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science (UAEREP), the upcoming field campaign seeks to assess the effectiveness of various cloud seeding materials, both with and without electric charges.

This groundbreaking research initiative is set to take place at Al Ain International Airport, and it will be carried out in collaboration with Stratton Park Engineering Company (SPEC), a US-based firm renowned for its expertise in cloud physics research and instrumentation.

Cloud-seeding in the UAE

In a sweeping campaign, a series of meticulously planned flight missions will blanket the airspace of the UAE and extend into parts of Oman.

These missions will employ NCM's cloud seeding aircraft alongside a specially equipped research Learjet operated by SPEC. The latter received UAEREP's Fourth Cycle grant for its pioneering research project titled 'Enhancing Seeding Material Properties Through Electric Charges.'

Dr. Abdulla Al Mandous, President of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and Director-General of NCM, emphasized, "This research campaign demonstrates NCM’s active role in promoting innovative research in areas related to national priorities including water security."

He added: “At NCM, we are committed to empowering the local talent and ensuring their active engagement in the development of new technologies that increase rainfall for the benefit of future generations at risk of water shortage.

“Such efforts strengthen the UAE’s prominent role in addressing water sustainability challenges, particularly as the country is gearing up to host COP28 next November.”

The campaign will also aim to train specialised personnel at NCM to conduct cloud physics research and analyse data from optical array probes and scattering probes aboard the research aircraft.

Ahmad Al Kamali, Rain Operations Executor at NCM, will play a crucial role in this campaign, focusing primarily on the electric charge emitter, which he developed as part of his research with the University of Reading in the United Kingdom.

His efforts will ensure the flawless functionality of the charge delivery and sensing mechanisms before any flight is undertaken.

Additionally, Al Kamali will continue to collaborate with experts from the University of Reading to analyse data obtained from aircraft sensors and probes, aiming to observe possible variations in cloud droplet size distribution following the release of charge.

Alya Al Mazroui, Director of UAEREP, said: “Through this innovative research campaign, UAEREP is engaged in conducting important field experiments to examine the findings of the Fourth Cycle awardee project that aims to improve the chemical and physical properties of seeding materials through electric charges.

“The campaign will also bolster UAEREP’s endeavour to attract local talent to stimulate the growth and deployment of new rain enhancement technologies.”

Dr. Paul Lawson, Senior Research Scientist at SPEC, said: “At SPEC, we continue our strategic collaboration with NCM and the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science to study the development of innovative solutions that improve the efficiency of cloud seeding operations.”

He added, that as part of the campaign, the SPEC research aircraft will gather initial measurements of cloud microphysical properties and electrical characteristics at various altitudes within a convective cloud target amenable to seeding.

Subsequently, the NCM aircraft will conduct cloud seeding on the same measured cloud by using one of the following seeding approaches:

  • Nanomaterial (N)
  • Large salt particles (L)
  • Conventional hygroscopic (H) flares, both with and without electric charging (NC, LC, and HC).

Investigations into various seeding methods will take place across multiple phases, targeting a range of cloud types.

After the initial seeding, a Learjet aircraft will conduct measurements of the cloud to monitor a natural secondary ice nucleation process at high altitudes, reaching up to approximately 25,000 feet.

This procedure plays a crucial role in enhancing the impacts of cloud seeding and promoting greater rainfall.

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