Cloud Seeding Technology: How Dubai Created Artificial Rain

Water is very valuable in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as there is less than 4 inches of rainfall every year. Dubai’s response to the planet’s continued warming due to man-made climate change is to use artificial rainfall created by shooting laser-equipped drones at clouds.

What is Cloud Seeding?

It is a weather modification technique that improves a cloud’s ability to produce artificial rain or snow by introducing tiny ice nuclei into certain types of subfreezing clouds.

How did Cloud Seeding work in Dubai?

Four drones with sensors to analyze cloud contents have been constructed by University of Reading academics. Drones, which have a wing span of less than two meters, are launched into the air and seek out clouds that meet specific criteria for temperature, humidity, and electrical charge. Upon spotting them, the drones stimulate the tiny raindroplets to adhere to one another by emitting a burst of electricity, akin to simulated lightning. These bigger droplets will eventually become heavy enough to fall as rain.

“Cloud seeding is a process to create artificial rain. Here, chemicals like silver iodide, potassium iodide and dry ice are sent to the atmosphere through helicopters or planes. These particles attract the water vapour in the air, leading to the formation of cumulonimbus clouds and finally rain. It generally takes half-an-hour to produce rainfall by this method. The time taken to generate rain depends on which portion of the cloud the chemicals are being injected into. Zapping the top layers gives the fastest results.”

Explaining the process by Kondala Murali Mohan, a scientist with Krishi Vigyan Kendra (Medak).

Harmful Effects on the Environment?

The Dubai experiment is said to be a greener alternative to the traditional methods as electric charge was administered through battery-operated drones. The rain creation project in Dubai was carried out by the University of Reading which was engaged by the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science in 2017.

“The electric charge method operates by making the droplets stick to each other, again helping the growth rate. This will also be administered by using aircraft, but small remote-controlled aircraft which are battery-powered and therefore environmentally friendly.”

the University of Reading had said.
In July UAE’s National Center of Meteorology shared a video on Twitter showing a successful result from the cloud seeding by posting this video.

In conclusion, there are mixed ideas about this research as it’s still unknown how far the impacts of tampering with the earths natural processes could lead to knock-on-effects later down the line.

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