More rains in UAE? Special month-long cloud-seeding mission to launch next week

Earlier this month, a top NCM official revealed to Khaleej Times that 22 cloud-seeding missions were conducted in the UAE since June


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Wed 30 Aug 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 30 Aug 2023, 9:53 PM

The UAE is undertaking a special cloud-seeding mission that could enhance rainfall in the desert even further. The month-long field campaign that starts from Al Ain International Airport will begin next week.

It is being conducted by the National Center of Meteorology (NCM) through the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science (UAEREP).

During the campaign, a group of researchers and pilots will cross-examine the performance of different cloud seeding materials with and without electric charge. This will help the NCM understand and perform cloud seeding in a more efficient way.

“This research campaign demonstrates NCM’s active role in promoting innovative research in areas related to national priorities including water security,” said Dr. Abdulla Al Mandous, President of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). “At NCM, we are committed to empowering the local talent and ensuring their active engagement in the development of new technologies that increase rainfall for the benefit of future generations at risk of water shortage.”

He added that such efforts strengthen the UAE’s prominent role in addressing water sustainability challenges, particularly as the country is gearing up to host COP28 next November.

Innovative technology

The innovative research drive will be conducted out of Al Ain International Airport in collaboration with Stratton Park Engineering Company (SPEC), a US-based company specializing in cloud physics research and instrumentation.

SPEC recently won a UAEREP grant for its pioneering research project centered around the properties of seeding materials and how they could be improved. This field experiment will test the findings of SPEC.

Data will be collected using the advanced instrumentation and sensors installed on NCM's cloud-seeding aircraft, the SPEC Learjet.

Training local talent

The campaign will also train specialised personnel at NCM to conduct cloud physics research and analyse data.

Ahmad Al Kamali, Rain Operations Executor at NCM, will play a crucial role in this campaign, focusing primarily on the electric charge emitter, which he developed as part of his research with the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. He will ensure the functioning of the charge delivery and sensing mechanisms before flights take off.

Al Kamali will also continue to collaborate with experts to analyze data from the aircraft sensors and probes, to study the variations in droplet size distribution after the charge is released.

“The campaign will also bolster UAEREP’s endeavour to attract local talent to stimulate the growth and deployment of new rain enhancement technologies,” said Alya Al Mazroui, Director of UAEREP.

Cloud-seeding- a method of boosting a cloud's capacity to produce rain- began in the UAE in the late 1990s. The key factor to cloud seeding is spotting convective clouds — which are perfect for the mission because of their rain-bearing capacity. A special aircraft is used to shoot salt flares into these clouds to enhance rainfall.


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