The pioneering research and technology achievements of the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science (UAEREP) are featured in a peer-reviewed article published by the Nature Research journal npj Climate and Atmospheric Science.
Titled “Rethinking water security in a warming climate: rainfall enhancement as an innovative augmentation technique”, the article showcases current progress and future directions for rainfall enhancement applications based on the UAE National Center of Meteorology’s (NCM) operational cloud seeding program and its grant-based international research and development ecosystem under UAEREP.
The article draws on input from distinguished contributors including HE Dr. Abdulla Al Mandous, Director General of NCM and President of WMO, Omar Al Yazeedi, Deputy Director General of NCM, and Alya Al Mazrouei, UAEREP Director, Dr. Steve Griffiths, SVP of R&D at Khalifa University, is the paper’s corresponding author and Dr. Youssef Wehbe, UAEREP team member, the paper’s lead author.
Al Mandous said: “This article underscores the significance of the research work carried by NCM to support the UAE’s efforts to achieve water security and contribute to mitigating the consequences of climate change on arid and semi-arid regions. Through such efforts, we aim to promote innovative solutions and foster international collaboration to address global water scarcity challenges.”
The article references average seasonal precipitation increases of 5-25% from different international cloud seeding efforts based on the WMO Peer Review Report on Global Precipitation Enhancement Activities. Using this benchmark range, corroborated by local radar-based studies over the UAE, the UAE’s cloud-seeding efforts are estimated to yield an additional 168-838 million cubic meters of rainfall annually. Adjusted for evaporation and soil retention, the harvestable volume of water from seeded rainfall ranges from 84-419 million cubic meters. This represents a fraction of the approximately 6.7 billion cubic meters of rainfall that the UAE receives annually.
The article also revealed that cloud-seeding missions managed by NCM can cost up to US$8,000 per flight hour. In 2020, a total of 390 flights were conducted, each averaging an hour in duration. Considering the range of harvestable rainfall volumes achievable through seeding, the unit cost of harvestable seeded rainfall can be estimated to be between US$0.01 and US$0.04 per cubic meter, compared to the reported estimated desalinated water production cost of US$0.31 per cubic meter in the UAE, presenting a compelling cost advantage over desalination.