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UAE government using drones to create artificial rainfall to combat blistering weather

Temperatures in Dubai surpassed 50 C, resulting in droughts and water shortages.

The United Arab Emirates, which has been seared by heatwaves and a dry climate, is experimenting with new technology by sending drones into clouds and zapping them with electricity to induce rains. For years, the Middle Eastern desert nation has made it rain by seeding clouds with aircraft, which works by blasting electrical charges into the clouds and forcing them to make rain, but a sudden downpour is thought to have been caused by drones. The government hopes that zapping clouds to produce rain regularly will mitigate some of the yearly heat waves.

A collaboration with researchers from England and the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) created the drones. According to The Washington Post, they hurl into the air, where they can glide around the sky, gathering weather data and giving clouds a slight nudge in the manner of an electrical shock. England’s University of Reading scientists assisted in the development of a series of drones that can fly up into existing clouds and change the electrical charge of water droplets, causing them to clump together “like dry hair on a comb,” according to a Reading scientist. The concept is that the electrical pulse would assist clump water droplets and other particles collectively to form new and more substantial clouds. These clouds will have a better chance of generating much-needed precipitation in the UAE, which receives just about four inches of rain per year, on average. 

The National Center of Meteorology of UAE posted two Instagram videos this week showing severe rain around the country, including in Ras al Khaimah, the country’s northern beach city. The zapping drones would give the UAE even more control over the water cycle, as the country already uses cloud seeding technologies to induce condensation and form clouds in the first place. 

UAE has a ton of cloud coverage, making it a potential area to test the experiment since it does not rain often. The electrical charges, according to the project investigator, let tiny water droplets mix with larger ones, resulting in even larger raindrops. Because of the country’s high temperatures, smaller raindrops are more likely to evaporate before reaching the ground. 

Other cloud seeding methods, including salt flares, have been utilized by the UAE in the past. According to the National News, the UAE managed more than 200 cloud seeding procedures in the first half of 2020, successfully causing surplus rainfall. The US, China, Thailand, and India have also seen accomplishments with this latest technology.

Reporter: Imaaz Nadeem

Written by: Mishaal Muzaffar

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