A cloud-seeding plane flies near the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Courtesy National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology
A cloud-seeding plane flies near the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Courtesy National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology

Proposals pour in for UAE's $5 million rain enhancement programme



More than 200 bids have been submitted by scientists to the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement, a national project that seeks to find new ways to increase rainfall in one of the driest countries on the planet,

Launched by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs of the UAE in early 2015 and managed by the UAE National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS), the progrrame looks seeks to address water security challenges.

These pre-proposals represented 710 scientists and researchers affiliated with 316 institutions across 68 countries on five continents.

Offering a grant of US$5 million to be shared by up to five winning research proposals, the programme has generated extensive interest.

Officials hosted a series of meetings with leading UK researchers working on climatology and meteorology as part of its summer 2017 European roadshow this week.

Following a meeting with one of the awardees of the programme’s second cycle, Professor Giles Harrison of the University of Reading, the team visited the European Centre For Medium Weather Forecasts, the European Space Agency and Imperial College.

Prof Harrison’s project, 'Electrical aspects of rain generation,' is based on the natural occurrence of electrical charges and their potential to modify water droplets even when clouds are not charged to the extent that leads to thunderstorms.

This project will investigate the electrical properties of clouds through theoretical and experimental work, firstly to model the growth of charged drops to raindrops, and secondly to measure and modify charges using balloons and aircraft.

"Understanding the role of electric charge in the generation of rain could boost precipitation levels without the use of artificial chemicals,” said Professor Harrison.

“The UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science has already played a major role in allowing international science networks to flourish and identify new frontiers in cloud seeding science and technology.

"The team’s visit to the University of Reading will introduce them to the efforts made in the UK in areas related to atmospheric science, and I thank them for their invaluable efforts in providing scientists with the support they need to translate their ideas into reality."

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