As a twin-turboprop plane takes off under the burning desert sun with dozens of salt canisters connected to its wings, United Arab Emirates (UAE) meteorological official Abullah al-Hammadi scans weather maps on computers screens for cloud formations.
At 9,000 ft above sea level, the plane releases salt flares into the most promising white clouds, hoping to trigger rainfall.
“Cloud seeding requires the existence of rainy clouds, and this is a problem as it’s not all the time the case,” said Hamadi, head of rain enhancement operations within the UAE’s Nationwide Centre for Meteorology.
The UAE, located in one of the hottest and driest regions on earth, has been main the effort to seed clouds and enhance precipitation, which remains at less than 100 millimetres (3.9 inches) a yr on average.
The results of local weather change, combined with a growing population and economic system diversifying into tourism and other areas have pushed up demand for water within the UAE, which has relied on costly desalination plants that make use of seawater.
Officials say they consider cloud seeding might help. Scientists in Abu Dhabi mix shooting hygroscopic, or water-attracting, salt flares with releasing salt nanoparticles, a newer technology, into the clouds to stimulate and speed up the condensation course of and hopefully produce droplets big enough to then fall as rain.
“Cloud seeding will increase rainfall charges by approximately 10% to 30% per yr… According to our calculations, cloud seeding operations cost a lot less than the desalination process,” Hammadi said.
Other countries in the area, together with Saudi Arabia and Iran, have announced similar plans as they face historic droughts.
Edward Graham, a meteorologist on the University of the Highlands and Islands in Britain, said the salt utilized in cloud seeding in the UAE doesn’t hurt the environment.
“In terms of carbon footprint, planes that fly up into the clouds are simply small planes, when compared to the billions of automobiles on the planet and the huge planes doing international air travel everyday, it’s only a drop in the ocean,” he added.
Pilots based on the UAE’s al-Ain airport have to be able to take off at a moments discover, flying over the reddish-yellow desert earlier than directing their plane into the clouds situated on the meteorologists’ screens.
“Cloud seeding is considered the second hardest problem for pilots,” mentioned one flyer, Ahmed al-Jaberi. “When there’s a cloud, we strive to determine the best way we have to go out and in of it and avoid thunderstorms or hail.”