UAE: Machine learning, AI to enhance rainfall in the region

The new projects aim to improve water security locally, regionally and globally


Anjana Sankar

Published: Thu 13 Jan 2022, 7:19 PM

Last updated: Fri 14 Jan 2022, 9:26 AM

The new rain enhancement projects in the UAE will use artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and ‘Hygroscopic Nano-materials’ to address water shortages, it has been announced.

The two winning projects for the fourth cycle were announced on Thursday by the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science at a special ceremony held at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The programme offers a grant of $1.5 million distributed over three years for each of the research proposals in rain enhancement, with a maximum of $550,000 per year.

Dr Bradley Baker received the grant for his research proposal titled ‘Enhancing Precipitation in the UAE Using Hygroscopic Nano-Materials'. His project aims to determine if the effects of the nano-material seeding agent and electric charge generators will stimulate a secondary ice process (SIP) that may potentially lead to rain enhancement. Dr Baker is the principal investigator at SPEC Inc.

Dr Luca Delle Monache, deputy director of the Centre for Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E), was awarded the grant for his research work titled ‘A Hybrid Machine Learning Framework for Enhanced Precipitation Nowcasting’.

The project seeks to create an AI research and operations test-bed in the UAE. The team will build a novel AI framework to blend satellite observations, ground-based weather radar data, rain gauges, and numerical weather prediction estimates.

The UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science supervises research grants offered to projects that contribute to the development of innovative solutions in rain enhancement research. In its fourth cycle, the programme received a total of 81 submissions, presented by 378 scientists and researchers affiliated with 159 institutions across 37 countries on five continents.

"Since its inception, the programme has played a crucial role in finding new solutions and ideas to tackle the scarcity of water resources and low rainfall rates. We are confident that through collaboration and collective efforts, we will be able to translate the ground-breaking ideas presented to the programme into reality, while contributing to improved water security locally, regionally, and globally,” said Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.


For his part, Dr Abdulla Al Mandous, Director of NCM and President of the Regional Association II (Asia) of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said: “We are confident that the winning project proposals, along with the previously awarded projects, will provide a solid scientific basis to develop promising solutions for the pressing water stress challenges in arid and semi-arid regions.”

The award ceremony was attended by Dr Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, and Faris Mohammed Al Mazrouei, Adviser at the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of NCM’s Board of Trustees.

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