An artist's impression of the new cloud seeding technology.


UAE rain enhancement program tests new cloud seeding materials


ABU DHABI – The UAE Rain Enhancement Program (UAEREP) has launched a flight campaign in the US state of Texas to investigate the effect of novel cloud seeding nanomaterials on the droplet size distribution, and ultimately, the rainfall generation process.

The open atmosphere airborne tests are the culmination of successful laboratory-scale experiments and modelling studies carried out over the past four years, as well as the tests that took place in Abu Dhabi last year.

The tests are overseen by the UAE’s National Centre of Meteorology.

The campaign is a combined effort leveraging research outcomes and capabilities from two UAEREP projects.

The innovative cloud seeding materials were developed by Professor Linda Zou, a professor at Khalifa University and one of the three awardees of the Programme’s First Cycle.

They are being tested by Dr. Paul Lawson, Senior Research Scientist at SPEC Incorporated, USA, and one of the programme’s second cycle awardees.

“Our planned testing campaign articulates the NCM’s continued efforts to develop innovative solutions to address the pressing global water-stress challenges,” said Dr Abdulla Al Mandous, Director of the NCM.

This campaign is an important part of the implementation and testing plan of the National Center of Meteorology, which consists of a titanium dioxide nanoparticle layer coated on the salt crystals.

Experimental results obtained so far through laboratory testing and analysis suggest that this material has a much higher ability to initiate condensation of water vapour and droplet growth in the clouds than the salt crystals that are currently used for rain enhancement.

The campaign uses a SPEC custom-designed Learjet research aircraft equipped with sophisticated cloud physics instrumentation used in various campaigns across the world.

It includes two to three flights of approximately two to three hours each, using a minimum of two flares for each cloud penetration depending on individual cloud conditions. A total of 40 flares have been dedicated for the flight campaign that will be conducted in coordination with the Texas Water District cloud seeding aircraft.

The seeding aircraft will fly under cloud base and either ignite two flares in the updraft or fly under cloud base without releasing any seeding material. The Learjet will break to the right and proceed to penetrate the cloud approximately 500 to 1,000 feet above the cloud base to intersect the seeding plume in the updraft.

A minimum of five clouds will be penetrated by the Learjet to obtain natural or unseeded background conditions for comparison with the seeded clouds. ICA/Expat Media

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