NCMS announces research project to enhance rainfall

Part of the new research programme is to understand in-depth the rain formation process.

By Silvia Radan - Reporter, Abu Dhabi

Published: Wed 21 Jan 2015, 2:01 AM

Last updated: Fri 26 Jun 2015, 12:25 AM

Abu Dhabi: Making rain is the latest research project announced by the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) at the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, taking place here on January 19-22.

A project done in partnership with Ministry of Presidential Affaires, the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science, is looking to award US $ 5 million to up to five companies committed to research sustainable, scientific methods to enhance rainfall.

"We already started the cloud seeding programme in 2000, but now we want to take the research a step further," said Dr Abdulla Al Mandoos, executive director of NCMS and permanent representative of UAE at World Meteorological Organisation.

"As the population and economy are set to grow, this programme will become a source of water other than desalination, and not only for UAE, but for any country faced with water scarcity," he added.

So far, NCMS has invested heavily in a cloud seeding infrastructure, including 60 networked automatic weather stations distributed strategically across UAE, a weather radar network and six aircrafts for cloud seeding operations.

During any cloud formations, these aircrafts are flying out dispersing substances into the air that serve as cloud condensation, leading to rainfall.

According to NCMS no harmful chemicals are used in these operations, relying instead on natural salts.

"Now we are taking the programme to the next level. Part of the new research programme is to understand in-depth the rain formation process," said Dr Mandoos.

If successful, the research will become a solution for water scarcity.

"Cloud seeding is a science that is underdeveloped and water is the most critical thing in the world. 72 percent of the world's water is used for irrigation, " added Dan Glickman, former US Secretary of Agriculture and executive director of Aspen Institute (a nongovernment programme for members of US Congress dealing with critical public policy issues), a partner for UAE Rain Enhancement Programme.

"The rain research programme is very well connected with the global food security, as water scarcity is a threat to agricultural crops. It is also related to climate change. Areas that produce wheat, corn suffer from drought as they no longer get enough rain, which also cause political unrest," he said.

As of now, the programme is accepting submissions from any company fit to undertake the scientific rain enhancement research. After various stages of reviewing the applicants, NCMS will announce up to five winning companies in January 2016.

They will all share equally the US $ 5 million for the research programme, to be conducted over a three-year period.

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