UAE: Cloud seeding can limit global warming, says NCM director

Abu Dhabi - The UAE started its cloud seeding operations in 2002 to tackle water scarcity


Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Sun 10 Oct 2021, 10:57 AM

Cloud seeding can significantly limit global warming and its detrimental effects, such as droughts and high water evaporation rates, a National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) official has said.

In a panel session titled 'Re-engineering Planet Earth', hosted by the World Majlis at Expo 2020 Dubai recently, Abdulla Al Mandous, director-general of NCM, said weather modification has proven to be a successful approach to re-engineering the environment.

Al Mandous, who is also the president of the Regional Association II (Asia) of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), highlighted the importance of cloud seeding — a method of artificially encouraging a cloud to produce rain — as a catalyst for re-engineering Earth by mitigating drought, enhancing water resources and ensuring its sustainability.

“Cloud seeding is effective in improving the micro-physical processes within the cloud, helping us harvest more water from the cloud and enhance precipitation by a global average of 18 per cent,” he said.

For nearly two decades, the UAE, as part of its leadership’s progressive vision, has allocated huge investments towards implementing cloud seeding operations to effectively tackle water scarcity.

"The potential future effects of climate change include prolonged drought in some regions and a surge in tropical storms in others. This mandates collective action to prevent the long-term consequences of climate change on future generations,” said Al Mandous.

“As part of its response to this challenge, the UAE has adopted cloud seeding technologies to offset the lack of natural water resources and increase the amount of rainfall. This has allowed the country to adapt to the challenges of drought in the Arabian Peninsula, and other arid and semi-arid areas across the globe.”

The UAE began cloud seeding operations in 2002 in response to its shortage of water resources.

The country followed the conventional approach of igniting hygroscopic flares composed of natural salts (primarily potassium chloride) at the base of convective clouds near the updraught core.

In the early years, the operations targeted frequent summertime convection along the northeastern Hajar mountains. The country’s cloud seeding infrastructure subsequently expanded over the years until suitable cloud candidates were targeted year-round over the entire UAE from 2010 onwards.

In 2015, the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science (UAEREP) was established under the patronage of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, to stimulate and promote scientific advancement and the development of new technology in the field.

The programme provides managed grant assistance to projects targeting innovative research on cloud seeding and the broader field of rainfall enhancement.


>> More rains in UAE? New cloud seeding project launched

The NCM is the entity responsible for implementing cloud seeding operations across the UAE.

The centre boasts specialised expertise and state-of-the-art infrastructure comprising more than 100 meteorological stations, an integrated network of radars covering all parts of the country, custom-designed aircraft to carry out cloud seeding operations, and a factory to produce high-quality hygroscopic salt flares for use in cloud-seeding operations.

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