Dubai creates its own RAIN to tackle 122F heat: drones blow up clouds with electric charge

The United Arab Emirates are creating their own rain using drones that fly into clouds and unleash electrical charges to beat the blistering 50 degrees Celsius heat.

The rain is formed using drone technology that gives clouds an electric shock to “coax” them to clump together and produce precipitation.

The UAE is one of the driest countries on Earth and she hopes the technology can help increase meager annual rainfall.

And it works. Video footage released by the UAE’s National Center of Meteorology shows monsoon-like downpours across the country causing a layer of rain on highways.

The United Arab Emirates are creating their own rain using drones that fly into the clouds and unleash electrical charges to beat the blistering heat of 122 degrees Fahrenheit

Video footage released by the UAE's National Center of Meteorology shows a monsoon-like downpour over the country causing a layer of rain on highways

Video footage released by the UAE’s National Center of Meteorology shows a monsoon-like downpour over the country causing a layer of rain on highways

Waterfalls can also be seen on the side of the road as drivers in SUVs struggle to navigate the torrential rains – despite the country being in the midst of a summer heat wave where temperatures have soared above 50°C.

The center said precipitation has been enhanced by a technique known as cloud seeding, and the goal is to increase condensation in the hopes it could trigger a downpour.

The UAE’s cloud-seeing operations are part of an ongoing $15 million (£10.8 million) mission to generate rain in the country, which is among the top 10 driest countries in the world with average rainfall from just 78 millimeters – 15 times less than what falls in an average year in the UK.

The rain is formed using drone technology that gives clouds an electric shock to 'coax' them to clump together and produce precipitation

The rain is formed using drone technology that gives clouds an electric shock to ‘coax’ them to clump together and produce precipitation

The rain is being created using drone technology in research led by experts from the University of Reading in the UK

The rain is being created using drone technology in research led by experts from the University of Reading in the UK

HOW CLOUD SEEDING WORKS

Microscopic particles of silver iodide are shot into existing clouds using land-based generators or aircraft.

Silver iodide is an ice-forming agent that freezes supercooled water droplets in the clouds.

The ‘ice embryos’ interact with the surrounding water droplets and eventually grow into snowflakes.

These fall to the ground as snow or raindrops, depending on the surface temperatures.

Cloud seeding can also in some cases cause the cloud to grow larger and last longer than it would without the change.

The rain is being created using drone technology in research led by experts from the University of Reading in the UK.

Professor Maarten Ambaum, who worked on the special project, told the BBC earlier this year that the UAE has enough clouds to create conditions that allow for rain.

The technology uses a drone to deliver electrical charges into the clouds, causing the water droplets to fuse and stick together to form precipitation, “like dry hair in a comb.”

“If the drops merge and are big enough, they will fall like rain,” said Professor Ambaum.

Alya Al-Mazroui, director of the UAE’s Rain Improvement Scientific Research Program, told Arab News in March: “Equipped with a load of electric charge emission instruments and modified sensors, these drones will fly at low altitudes and deliver an electric charge. of air molecules, which should stimulate precipitation.’

In 2017, the UAE government provided $15 million for nine different rain improvement projects.

Professor Maarten Ambaum, who worked on the special project, told the BBC earlier this year that the UAE has enough clouds to create conditions that allow for rain.

Professor Maarten Ambaum, who worked on the special project, told the BBC earlier this year that the UAE has enough clouds to create conditions that allow for rain.

Among them is another cloud-seeding technology that launches salty missiles from airplanes into clouds.

The countries Forecasters from Abu Dhabi are tracking weather radars to tell pilots flying official government jets when to take off for rain-inducing missions.

“Once they see convective cloud formations, they launch us on a flight to investigate,” said Mark Newman, deputy chief pilot at NCMS.

Speaking from the airbase that houses the four Beechcraft King Air C90 aircraft used for the country’s cloud seeding program, Mr Newman said the team would then try to “seed the cloud” if conditions were right.

Newman said summer is usually the busiest season for the missions.

At that point, clouds form over the eastern Al-Hajar mountains, deflecting the warm winds blowing from the Gulf of Oman.

The strength of the updraft determines the number of ‘salt flames’ fired as the aircraft explores the base of the forming cloud.

“When we have a slight updraft, we usually burn one or two torches. If we have a good updraft, we burn four, sometimes six torches in the cloud,” he said.

Not every cloud they sow produces rain, but according to Mr. Newman, they often do.

‘It’s fantastic… As soon as it rains, there is a lot of enthusiasm. We can hear the guys in the office are happy,” he said.

However, whether cloud seeding is effective at increasing rainfall is still under investigation.

Many scientists doubt whether it has a noticeable impact on rainfall.

However, US ski resorts in Colorado are reportedly using the method to cause heavier snowfall.

It was also used prior to the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics to cause a downpour elsewhere and keep the stadium dry.

This included firing rockets full of silver iodide crystals into rain clouds over Beijing’s suburbs.

The former USSR also apparently used cloud seeding to prevent the fallout from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster from reaching Moscow.

To meet rising water needs, driven by rapid economic growth and a massive influx of workers, the UAE has mainly resorted to desalination – the process of removing salt from seawater to make it usable.

The Gulf country accounts for 14 percent of the world’s desalinated water and is the second largest producer after neighboring Saudi Arabia.

The country has 33 desalination plants that meet 42 percent of its needs, according to a 2013 report from the Ministry of Environment and Water.

Rain caused by cloud seeding is much cheaper than desalinated water, according to Omar al-Yazeedi, head of research at NCMS.

In 2010, four days of heavy rain caused by cloud cover brought downpours equivalent to nine years of production from a single desalination plant in Abu Dhabi, he said.

“This shows that an enormous amount of water can be tapped… It is a source that cannot be ignored,” he said.

The oil-rich desert country (pictured above near Abu Dhabi) ranks among the top 10 driest countries in the world.  Annual rainfall is 78 millimeters (three inches), 15 times less than an average annual rainfall in the UK.  Cloud seeding is seen as much cheaper than alternative methods of obtaining water through desalination

The oil-rich desert country (pictured above near Abu Dhabi) ranks among the top 10 driest countries in the world. Annual rainfall is 78 millimeters (three inches), 15 times less than an average annual rainfall in the UK. Cloud seeding is seen as much cheaper than alternative methods of obtaining water through desalination

Studies show that cloud seeding can increase the amount of rain by between five and 70 percent, depending on the quality of the clouds, he said.

The American Meteorological Society said in 2010 that despite some uncertainty about its effectiveness, “large potential benefits may justify relatively small investments to perform operational cloud seeding.”

The UAE is also exploring methods to conserve the rain that hits the ground, rather than allowing it to evaporate quickly or flow into the sea.

It has built dams and reservoirs to collect water that floods desert valleys.

The country has about 130 dams and embankments with a storage capacity of about 120 million cubic meters (more than four billion cubic feet), according to the ministry’s report.

Abdulla al-Mandoos, executive director of NCMS, said studies are being prepared to plan more dams and protect water, aimed at directing rain “from the cloud directly to the aquifer.”

“We don’t want to waste a drop of water,” he said.

.