Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 31 May 2020

Science flies high to boost UAE’s rain

By studying the way ice is produced in certain clouds, the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science is hoping to find a new approach to addressing water scarcity.

ABU DHABI // Scientists will head into the clouds over the UAE to find new methods of increasing the country’s rainfall.

By studying the way ice is produced in clouds, teams with the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science are hoping to find a new approach to addressing water scarcity.

“I am confident that a better understanding of how we might manipulate the ice production process in clouds could enhance the range of techniques we already have at our disposal to boost rainfall, ” said Dr Paul Lawson, who will head the project.

Dr Lawson, one of the winners of this year’s UAE Rain Enhancement Programme US$5 million (Dh18.37m) award, will investigate ice production in cumulus clouds.

Current cloud-seeding methods involve increasing rain by releasing pure salt crystal, silver iodide, potassium iodide or dry ice into the air, which helps to change the processes within the cloud.

Dr Lawson – who founded the American firm Spec Inc, which produces airborne cloud physics instruments in Boulder, Colorado – was recently visited by a team from the UAE research programme as part of their US visit.

With the programme playing a major role in the field’s progress, Dr Lawson said he was grateful it was taking his project forward.

Alya Al Mazroui, manager of the programme, said meeting US researchers and organisations would help further the UAE’s goal of becoming a leader in water security.

“Our visit to our research colleagues in Washington and Boulder has given us an excellent opportunity to consolidate our already strong links with the weather research and forecasting innovation community in the United States,” said Ms Al Mazroui.

The team’s visit to Washington included meetings with IBM, the World Bank, the National Academy of Sciences and Nasa, as well as figures from US Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

The UAE’s water primarily comes from groundwater resources and desalinated water. Consumption is estimated to exceed 24 times the natural recharge capacity.

The rain enhancement industry is on the rise globally and UAE is one of more than 50 countries with active cloud-seeding operations, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.

Cloud-seeding companies in Europe guarantee good weather for occasions such as weddings for a fee of US$150,000.

tsubaihi@thenational.ae

Updated: June 8, 2017 04:00 AM

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