A new method of triggering rain in water-scarce regions will be tested in the United Arab Emirates, according to research published in the Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology. The method involves catapulting small autopilot aircraft into the sky that then jolt the clouds with an electric charge.

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In search of freshwater alternatives, the UAE has been funding scientists from different parts of the world to try and make rain. The idea of zapping clouds with an electric charge was proposed by the University of Reading U.K. in 2017. So far, testing has been conducted in the U.K. and Finland, and the idea is now ready to be tested in UAE.

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The UAE suffers from water scarcity like many other countries in arid areas. Officials are looking toward technology to find a way of introducing fresh rainwater to the country. According to Keri Nicoll, one of the investigators on the project, testing the project in UAE will provide a clear picture of what this method can do.

Nicoll and her team have established that when clouds are electrically charged, smaller droplets could merge and form bigger droplets that fall as rain. The problem with hot regions like the UAE is that the higher temperatures could cause the small rain droplets to evaporate before reaching the surface.

“What we are trying to do is to make the droplets inside the clouds big enough so that when they fall out of the cloud, they survive down to the surface,” Nicoll said, as reported by CNN.

The UAE Program for Rain Enhancement Science, an initiative of the UAE government run by the National Center of Meteorology, has chosen the proposal to receive $1.5 million grant funding. The funding will go toward helping the researchers bring their idea to life.

In recent years, there has been increasing interest in controlling weather patterns. The World Wildlife Fund has projected that two-thirds of the world’s population will face water scarcity by 2025. Programs are now underway to address the issue of water shortages.

+ Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology


Image via Joshua