Dubai Tires of Waiting for Rainfall

Project brings downpours in UAE by hitting clouds with electrical charges
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2021 5:15 PM CDT
Dubai Tires of Waiting for Rainfall
A woman fans herself in the intense desert heat last week as the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, looms behind her in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.   (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)

The recent downpours in the United Arab Emirates seemed a little unreal; the country only receives about 4 inches of rain per year. It turns out they weren't quite natural: Scientists have hit clouds with electronic charges to force rainfall during a heat wave that's often pushed temperatures in Dubai past 115 degrees. The zaps are delivered by drones, CBS reports. Researchers said the electricity causes droplets to form clumps, making them less likely to evaporate on the way down—a regular outcome where clouds and temperatures are high. The electrical charges don't present the environment concern that using chemicals in clouds does.

"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," said a project staff member, per CNN. The government has posted video of the resulting rain on Instagram. It was so heavy that waterfalls appeared on the side of roads, per Yahoo News, and made driving difficult. Scientists at Britain's University of Reading developed the technology. After a demonstration there in May, the ambassador to the UK said, "It's moving to think that the rainfall technology I saw today, which is still being developed, may someday support countries in water-scarce environments like the UAE." (More United Arab Emirates stories.)

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