The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a region that’s home to hot temperatures and three deserts, has experienced heavy rainfall in multiple places over recent hours due to deliberate manipulation of the weather. The effort involved drones and a technology called cloud seeding, which disperses substances in the air that alter clouds’ properties, increasing the likelihood of rain.
The UAE is situated along the Persian Gulf near Saudi Arabia; it is known for, among other things, its piping hot summers that only cool down enough to eventually become warm or barely-cool winters. July and August are the hottest months of the year for the UAE, a time during which the temperature can exceed 110F, at least along the coast.
The coastal region where temperatures can get very hot is also known for having little rainfall, the average of which hovers around 4-inches annually. The nation has explored ways to change this for years, including batting around a concept involving an artificial mountain a few years ago. Fast-forward to July 2021 and a solution has been implemented.
The UAE’s National Center for Meteorology has been tweet-storming for the past several hours, sharing videos and updates on rainfall in different coastal regions in the Emirates, as well as 3D models that visualize the storms triggered by these cloud-seeding efforts.
The official weather agency reports modest rainfall in some locations and torrential downpours in others, with some places hit by such heavy rains that it disrupted traffic. Based on reports from the NCM, it seems these cloud-seeded rainstorms have been taking place in various regions for the past few days.
The cloud seeding comes amid ongoing hot weather as many regions in the Emirates deal with temperatures above 100F day after day. The UAE has concerns beyond just heat, however, as it also faces a growing population mixed with increased water scarcity. The Emirates have spent millions of dollars exploring ways to address these issues, not the least of which was that aforementioned artificial mountain.
By deploying drones and using them to zap clouds, scientists were able to force moisture droplets in to pull together. Rather than evaporating like usual, the larger clumps of water ended up raining down despite the scoring temperatures, hitting the ground as rain drops. The effort may increase the UAE’s annual rainfall considerably beyond its typical 4-inches annually, offering one solution to a problem that grows worse in the face of climate change.