It’s so hot in Dubai the government pays scientists to make it rain
Faced with a warmer future, dwindling water sources and an exploding population, scientists in one Middle Eastern country are making it rain.
UAE weather officials this week released a video showing cars driving through a downpour in Ras al Khaimah, in the north of the country. The storm is the result of one of the UAE’s most recent efforts to increase rainfall in a desert country that receives about four inches per year on average.
Washington, DC, on the other hand, has received an average of nearly 45 inches of rain per year over the past decade.
Scientists created rainstorms by launching drones, which then destroyed the clouds with electricity, the Independent reports. Droplets shaken in clouds can cause them to clump together, the researchers found. The resulting larger raindrops then fall to the ground, instead of evaporating into the air – which is often the fate of smaller droplets in the United Arab Emirates, where temperatures are warm and clouds are cloudy. High.
“What we’re trying to do is make the droplets inside the clouds big enough that when they fall from the cloud they survive to the surface,” said meteorologist and researcher Keri. Nicoll to CNN in May as his team prepared to start. test drones near Dubai.
Nicoll is part of a team of scientists from the University of Reading in England whose research led to this week’s man-made rainstorms. In 2017, scientists at the university were awarded $ 1.5 million to be used over three years from the United Arab Emirates Research Program for Rain Improvement Science, which has invested in at least nine projects from different research over the past five years.
To test their research, Nicoll and his team built four drones with a wingspan of around 6.5 feet. The drones, which are launched from a catapult, can fly for about 40 minutes, CNN reported. During flight, the drone’s sensors measure temperature, humidity, and electrical charge in a cloud, allowing researchers to know when and where to zap.
Water is a big problem in the United Arab Emirates. The country uses about 4 billion cubic meters of it each year, but has access to about 4% of these renewable water resources, according to the CIA. The number of people living in the UAE has skyrocketed in recent years, doubling to 8.3 million between 2005 and 2010, which is why demand for water increased by a third during that time, according to the 2015 government report on the state of the environment. The population continued to increase over the next decade and is now 9.9 million.
“The water table is sinking considerably [the] United Arab Emirates, ”University of Reading professor and meteorologist Maarten Ambaum told BBC News,“ and the purpose of this [project] is to try to help with the precipitation.
It usually rains only a few days a year in the United Arab Emirates. During the summer there is almost no rainfall. Temperatures there recently exceeded 125 degrees.
In recent years, the UAE’s massive push in desalination technology – which turns seawater into fresh water by removing salt – has helped close the gap between water demand and supply. Most of the UAE’s drinking water, and 42% of all water used in the country, comes from its some 70 desalination plants.
Yet part of the government’s “water security strategy” is to reduce demand by 21% over the next 15 years.
The ideas for getting more water for the UAE have not lacked imagination. In 2016, the Washington Post reported that government officials were considering building a mountain to create precipitation. When moist air reaches a mountain, it is pushed upward, cooling as it rises. The air can then condense and turn into liquid, which falls as rain.
Estimates for another mountain building project in the Netherlands have reached $ 230 billion.
Other ideas for getting more water to the UAE include building a pipeline from Pakistan and floating icebergs coming down from the Arctic.