Dubai: New technology to make artificial clouds tested out on Jebel Jais – News

First phase last year tested an innovative jet engine composite system on the country’s highest peak


Published: Fri 28 Oct 2022, 2:46 PM

The National Centre of Meteorology (NCM), through the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science (UAEREP), completed the second phase of innovative technology demonstration trials to explore the possibility of artificial cloud formation by stimulating local updrafts.

The field trials were conducted on Jebel Jais, the UAE’s highest peak at 1,934 metres above sea level, in Ras Al Khaimah, by a research team led by Dr Ali Abshaev, UAEREP’s third cycle awardee and Senior Researcher at the Hail Suppression Research Centre in Russia.

The team observed wintertime local-scale cloud processes and precipitation over the eastern areas of the UAE and compared the results with their previous springtime trials conducted from February 17 to March 26, 2021.

The project’s purpose was to study the possibility of stimulating cumulus cloud formation using an innovative jet engine composite system which releases a high-velocity stream of customised aerosol particles into the atmosphere to trigger artificial updrafts and, consequently, cloud formation.

From December 24, 2021, to January 5, 2022, the team conducted twelve experiments in different atmospheric conditions. These included three experiments in clear cloudless sky conditions, four when convective or layered convective clouds were over the site or at a short distance, three with direct interventions in convective clouds, and two with interventions in stratiform clouds.

A techno-economic study to scale up the jet engine system to amplify its effects are the main concern for future work, including more powerful (or a network of) jet engines.

Dr Abdulla Al Mandous, Director-General of the National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) and President of the Regional Association II (Asia), said, “As part of its support for the UAE’s National Innovation Strategy, the NCM continues to drive innovation in rain enhancement research to fulfil the aspirations of our wise leadership to ensure water security in the UAE and beyond.

“Through the UAEREP, the centre closely works with the programme awardees. It supports their ground-breaking research to find sustainable water solutions for the benefit of communities at risk of water scarcity. Such efforts go a long way in developing local and global capacities in this important research domain while ensuring sustainable clean water supply needed for our socio-economic development.”

Alya Al Mazroui, Director of the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science, said, “The outcomes of this project have the potential to advance our understanding of cloud formation and precipitation development through contributing new knowledge to rain enhancement science. The atmospheric data gathered from this campaign answers many important questions about cloud formation.

“It will help us determine the optimal conditions for our future rain enhancement operations. We look forward to utilising the findings of such studies to develop more viable and cost-effective cloud seeding methods that will eventually increase our rainfall rates and enhance freshwater supply.”

As a culmination of three years of theoretical, lab-scale, and numerical modelling work conducted by the project team, Phase 1 of the field campaign was completed last year on Jebel Jais. The campaign deployed and tested an innovative jet engine composite system, in addition to advanced scientific measurement instrumentation, including a custom-made weather drone, microwave radiometer, wind lidar, fog cannon, and thermal infrared imager, among others.

The project derives its theoretical basis from ash clouds from volcanic activity that can produce convective clouds leading to the formation of cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds which could lead to precipitation. It attempts to recreate this phenomenon of stimulating cloud formation using more sustainable methods and available technology.


Marcy Willis

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