The United Arab Emirates National Meteorology Center tests an ingenious method of causing rain in the Dubai desert, where temperatures reach as high as 50 degrees Celsius (about 120 degrees Fahrenheit). If the possibility of rain in such an arid area seems far-fetched, the method is a bit more so: drones that perform small electrical discharges on the clouds to generate precipitation.
According to the Arab News portal, the method was commissioned by the United Arab Emirates National Meteorology Center to British scientists at the University of Reading, who consider drones to be a less intrusive method than dumping chemicals to cause rain.
To put it in context, in some countries such as China or the United Arab Emirates, airplanes loaded with chemicals such as silver iodide or salt are used to favor precipitation. Clouds, made up of tiny water molecules suspended in the air, tend to precipitate if they are stimulated with chemicals such as silver iodide.
However, experts from the University of Reading consider that their method is less intrusive and as much or more effective than those that require the use of chemicals.
“If you launch a discharge into a cloud, that charge will fill with water droplets quickly,” explains Dr Keri Nicoll, an expert from the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading. “Our theory shows that charging these droplets increases the probability that they are electrostatically brought together, which encourages them to turn into rain,” he adds.
The UAE National Meteorology Center will test the method devised by experts at the University of Reading in the coming months. The project has a fund of $ 15 million, so it is likely that several tests will be carried out to validate if the method works or not.