UAE to boost rainfall using AI in cloud seeding operations

Deep learning algorithm to learn from thousands of examples drawn from historical data


A Staff Reporter

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Published: Thu 16 Jun 2022, 1:05 PM

The National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) has announced the start of its latest project to boost rainfall. The project will use artificial intelligence (AI) to achieve enhanced rainfall prediction.

The project's focal point will be the creation of an AI research and operations testbed in the UAE. An AI framework will be built to combine satellite observations, ground-based weather radar data, rain gauges, and numerical weather prediction estimates to determine optimal cloud seeding timings and locations.

The multidisciplinary team expects to deliver a prototype of the AI-based predictive capabilities deployed at the NCM in Abu Dhabi. This will allow the Centre to identify optimal cloud characteristics, timings, and seeding locations and enhance quantitative precipitation estimates for rain enhancement in the UAE.

The project will be led by Dr Luca Delle Monache, deputy director of the Centre for Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E) through the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science (UAEREP).

According to Dr Monache, "an advanced deep learning algorithm will be designed to learn from thousands of examples drawn from historical data and effectively extract and extrapolate inputs and the required cloud features needed to predict new cloud formations that could be seeded".

"These features and inputs will be combined with extrapolated satellite and radar data, numerical weather prediction data, and rain gauges to provide inputs for an AI-based model that can generate precipitation predictions up to six hours in the future."

Alya Al Mazroui, director of UAEREP, said Dr Monache's new project will open up a range of potentially fruitful new research directions "that will complement the excellent work that our other awardees have already done".


Other projects include drones, ice nucleation, aerosol seeding, nanotechnology to accelerate water condensation and droplet formation, cloud electrical properties analysis and advanced experimental-numerical approaches.

Dr Abdulla Al Mandous, director of NCM and President of the Regional Association II (Asia) of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), said: "Through strengthening partnerships with top international research institutions and key stakeholders in rain enhancement research, the Centre is scaling up its response to the growing water stress challenges worldwide. Such efforts will help us develop innovative solutions and contribute new knowledge to benefit those in need of freshwater resources in water-scarce and arid regions."

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