In an area that has one of the most arid climates in the world, one country created heavy rain by using drones that cause clouds to trigger electrical charges.
The United Arab Emirates, where the temperature can reach a blistering 122 degrees Fahrenheit and the average rainfall is a minuscule three inches, released a video from its National Center of Meteorology showing the rain pouring on highways.
“The country paid $15 million (£10.8 million) towards nine different rain-enhancement projects, part of which was given to the University of Reading, who are behind the creation of the weather-controlling drones,” Unilad noted.
Alya Al-Mazroui, director of the UAE’s rain-enhancement science-research program, stated, “Equipped with a payload of electric-charge emission instruments and customized sensors, these drones will fly at low altitudes and deliver an electric charge to air molecules, which should encourage precipitation,” Arab News reported.
Keri Nicoll, one of the core investigators on the project, told CNN that the size of the raindrops was vital because droplets could evaporate as they fall. She stated, “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.”
“To test out the model, Nicoll and her team built four aircraft with a wingspan of two meters. These are launched from a catapult, have a full autopilot system, and can fly for around 40 minutes. Each aircraft has sensors for measuring temperature, charge, and humidity, as well as charge emitters — the part that does the zapping — that were developed with the University of Bath in the UK,” CNN explained.
Prof Maarten Ambaum, who worked on the project, told the BBC, “The water table is sinking drastically in [the] UAE and the purpose of this is to try to help with rainfall.” … (There are) ‘plenty of clouds,’ so the hope was to make water droplets merge and stick together ‘like dry hair to a comb’ when they meet static electricity.” He added, “When the drops merge and are big enough, they will fall as rain.”
“The country’s Abu Dhabi-based forecasters monitor weather radars to tell pilots flying official government aircraft when to take off on rain-inducing missions,” The Daily Mail reported, adding that in the summer “clouds form over the eastern Al-Hajar mountains which deflect the warm wind blowing from the Gulf of Oman. The strength of the updraft determines the number of ‘salt flares’ fired as the plane explores the base of the forming cloud.”
Mark Newman, the deputy chief pilot at NCMS, said, “As soon as they see some convective cloud formations, they launch us on a flight to investigate. … If we’ve got a mild updraft, we usually burn one or two flares. If we’ve got a good updraft, we burn four, sometimes six flares into the cloud. … It is fantastic… As soon as there is rain, there is a lot of excitement. We can hear the guys in the office are happy.”
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