The United Arab Emirates is stepping up cloud seeding programs in order to encourage rainfall and tackle the country’s shortage of natural water resources.
Scientists are saying that cloud seeding technology can help to increase annual downpours by up to 25 percent.
Cloud seeding is a type of weather modification that aims to change the amount or type of precipitation that falls from clouds by dispersing substances into the air that serve as cloud condensation or ice nuclei. The objective typically is to increase precipitation.
The director of research at the National Center of Meteorology, Omar al-Yazeedi, said for the past 22 years, the UAE has been at the forefront of rain-enhancement science to increase annual rainfall across its arid climate.
The National Center of Meteorology is the task force behind the country’s cloud seeding program.
The program began more than two decades ago in 1990 and was developed in cooperation with international organizations including the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, and the U.S. space agency NASA.
Yazeedi said the technology is not simply sending aircraft into the sky to inject chemical particles into clouds, but that scientists use a technique of weather modification that takes place at the base of the cloud using hygroscopic materials.
“These materials such as salt (sodium chloride, potassium chloride), are carried out by updrafts into the middle of the cloud, that will start to activate the condensation process, where the water vapor in the cloud, starts to condense on these materials,” he said.
“These materials also adsorb the tiny cloud droplets and gather them which turn into bigger cloud droplets, that will enhance the collision and coalescence processes to give support to the tiny cloud droplets to enlarge their size, making it hard for them to stay suspended.”
The cloud droplets will then fall because they have more weight to them. He explained therefore the operation aims to both increase the amount of rainfall, as well as its duration.