x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Rainstorm might have been seeded

Planes took off to seed rain clouds in Al Ain on Monday morning. Later that day there was 1.2mm of rainfall on Jebel Hafeet and 4.8mm in Mazyad, towards the base of the mountain.

DUBAI // A rainstorm in parts of the country this week might have been triggered or augmented by a cloud seeding experiment.

Planes took off to seed rain clouds in Al Ain on Monday morning. Later that day there was 1.2mm of rainfall on Jebel Hafeet and 4.8mm in Mazyad, towards the base of the mountain.

The experiments are part of a project by the National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology in Abu Dhabi.

"We had the last successful event just a few days ago, with the rains over Al Ain," said Omar Alyazeedi, director of the research development and training department at the centre. "We were trying to get the most out of the cloud by increasing rainfall."

Research into cloud seeding began in 1999to tackle groundwater shortages. There are three pilots who work on the project and cloud seeding takes place around four times a week.

Planes release a salt-based mixture of potassium chloride, sodium chloride, and a small amount of magnesium into cumulus clouds at a height of more than 2,000m.

The mixture is thought to work by causing water vapour in the clouds to condense into rain drops.

The project runs year-round, mostly over the mountains in the north of the country and over Al Ain.

Experts believe cloud seeding can increase the expected rainfall by 10 or 15 per cent.

mcroucher@thenational.ae