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Is Cloud Seeding the Reason Behind Dubai’s Record Rainfall?

Daniel Kim Views  

아랍에미리트에 내린 폭우로 낙타가 떠내려가는 모습이 담긴 영상이 온라인에 확산되고 있다. 사진=엑스 갈무리

Amid record-breaking rainfall in Dubai, there have been claims that this weather disaster was due to artificial rain.

While experts suggest that the downpour is likely not due to artificial rain, interest has surged around cloud seeding, the process used to induce artificial rain.

On the 16th (local time), the Associated Press reported, citing UAE state-run WAM news agency, that over 142mm (5.6 inches) of rain had fallen at Dubai International Airport in 24 hours. Considering the average annual rainfall in the region is 94.7mm (3.7 inches), this is equivalent to a year and a half’s worth of rain in a single day.

In Al Ain, a border region adjacent to Oman, a record-breaking 254mm (10 inches) of rain fell in less than 24 hours. This is more than double the average annual rainfall, setting a new record.

This amount of rain in Dubai is unprecedented since data collection began in 1949 before oil was discovered. WAM described the day’s rain as a “historic weather phenomenon.”

아랍에미리트에 내린 폭우로 도시가 물에 잠긴 모습이 담긴 영상이 온라인에 확산되고 있다. 사진=엑스 갈무리

Heavy rainfall also hit nearby countries like Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, but the UAE experienced an extraordinary downpour across the entire country. This has led to speculation that the ‘cloud seeding’ operation, frequently conducted by the UAE to induce artificial rain, may be to blame.

According to the Daily Mail, cloud seeding technology was discovered in the 1940s to modify weather. At that time, researchers at General Electric found that water cooled to between -10 and -5 degrees Celsius (14 and 23 degrees Fahrenheit) does not freeze under certain conditions.

The absence of ‘nuclei’ to form ice crystals prevented freezing despite sufficient cooling. Concurrently, the researchers discovered that adding silver iodide to water vapor immediately formed ice crystals.

Nuclei are formed by spraying silver iodide (cloud seeds) into clouds from an airplane, condensing the water vapor into droplets heavy enough to fall to the ground.

The UAE, one of the hottest and driest places on Earth, has been using cloud seeds since the 1990s to increase its annual rainfall by an average of 5 to 15% to augment its water supply. This is why cloud seeding is being blamed for the recent downpour.

However, experts believe the downpour is unrelated to cloud seeding. The UAE sprays cloud seeds 6–7 times a year, and the amount of artificial rain can be predicted so that it won’t cause such heavy rainfall. The UAE’s weather agency told Reuters that no cloud seeding operation could have influenced the recent downpour.

Ryan Maue, a meteorologist and former senior researcher at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said, “I am almost certain that it’s not a cloud seeding issue. If it were, there should always be rain in this area.” He explained, “You can’t create a water bomb of 160mm (6.3 inches) all at once in such sparse water vapor.”

According to experts, the hefty rainfall results from human-induced climate change, which has led to disastrous consequences. Michael Mann, a climatologist at Pennsylvania University, said that four low-pressure areas in the Dubai region moved in a line following the jet stream, like a train. This atmospheric movement extended to the Persian Gulf, leading to heavy rainfall, which is hard to predict.

Meanwhile, unexpected heavy rain has caused significant damage in Middle Eastern countries with poorly equipped drainage facilities. In the UAE, one older adult in their 70s died, and in Oman, where the heavy rain continued for three days, 19 people, including children, lost their lives.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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