How UAE makes it rain in the desert?
Dubai - Forum discusses cloud seeding operations in country.
Not many people are familiar with the work that goes into bringing rain to the UAE. A team of specialists at the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) is tasked with sending sulphur and potassium compounds into the clouds as part of the cloud seeding operations taking place in different parts of the country.
"Cloud seeding only works when you have a plan. We try to get the maximum from each rainy cloud. To measure any trend or draw statistical conclusions, we need more data over the years," explained Omar Al Yazeedi, who heads the research and development department at the NCMS.
More than 40 countries use cloud seeding programmes to help increase access to fresh water. Speaking about the success of the UAE's cloud seeding initiative, Al Yazeedi detailed the major developments since the programme's inception in 2001.
"Cloud seeding started in the UAE ... with research on cloud seeding looking to study the feasibility of conducting experiments in the country. Early studies looked at the number of clouds, number of thunderstorms and other parameters to see how the programme could help UAE residents," said Al Yazeedi.
He was speaking at the two-day WeatherTechGCC conference taking place in Dubai on September 16-17.
"The mountainous region between Oman and UAE provides ample opportunities for cloud seeding in both summer and winter. We have studied more than 150 cases of cloud seeding to see how it impacts the cloud itself. In order to do cloud seeding, we have invested in state of the art infrastructure by building weather stations to ensure coverage of both mainland and island areas," he said.
The weather bureau has its own pilots and four aircraft to support the cloud seeding operations.
"The main goal was to enhance rainfall and increase precipitation. Today, we can study clouds over UAE in great detail to direct our seeding programme successfully. Instead of just looking at imagery of cloud formation, we have also connected weather systems in Bahrain and Oman with our capabilities in the UAE to provide more data for predicting rapid weather changes," Al Yazeedi added.
The centre has also created its own seeding and flares manufacturing facility in the UAE to explore ways of changing the seeding formula which has remained largely unchanged in the last 50 years.
Sufian Farrah, a senior meteorologist at NCMS, also shed light on the activities undertaken by the country's weather bureau.
"In the UAE, cloud seeding didn't start because of scarcity of water but ... to secure water resources keeping in mind the arid weather in this region," said Farrah.
Explaining how the cloud size is expanded using flares, Farrah said, "Hygroscopic flares which add salt particles inside a cloud help us grow the size of clouds. Once the cloud becomes significantly heavy, it bursts as the cloud cannot hold the weight anymore. The components of salt flares include potassium chloride, sodium chloride and magnesium."