The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has one of the 10 driest climates in the world. The average yearly rainfall in the Arab Nation is approximately 78mm compared to the yearly average of Nevada in the US of about 241mm. Cloud seeding is being used more and more by the UAE to add usable water to their many ever-dwindling aquifers.
[Image Source: http://www.imgix.com/]
According to cloud seeders the process doesn’t actually create the weather it can only increase the chances of a producing raining and possibly increase the amount of rain that falls from the cloud. The way it’s done is by looking at local cloud formations and choosing the ones with the best chances of precipitation. They shoot missiles containing silver iodide and calcium chloride into the base of the forming cloud and depending on the amount of updraft present they select the amount of missiles to fire. If the updraft is mild only 1 or 2 salt missiles can be taken up by the cloud but if it’s a good updraft they will fire up to 6 missiles. Cloud seeding often makes it rain but it’s never guaranteed.[Image Source: Wikipedia, Cloud Seeding]
Desalination is the process of removing salt from sea water but it’s expensive and time consuming so cloud seeding is being considered as a less expensive and more productive option. Even with 33 desalination plants in the Arab Emirates only 42% of their water needs are being met. Cloud seeding creates anywhere from a 5-70% increase in falling rain compared to just letting Mother Nature do her thing.
Cloud seeding produces in days what desalination would take years to produce according to the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS). The cloud seeding goal of the UAE is to select clouds directly over the aquifers in an effort to catch every single last drop.
Written by Beverley Start