KEY POINTS

  • The UAE's water table is sinking drastically
  • Scientists are researching various ways to increase rainfall
  • The UAE currently uses cloud-seeding technology

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is planning to send drones up to the sky and shock clouds with electricity, in the hope that this will instigate them into producing rain.

The average rate of rainfall each year in the UAE is a measly 100 mm, BBC reported, which is why the country wants to artificially create more showers. There is barely any rainfall in cities like Dubai, which means the water table is also gradually reducing. 

The UAE currently uses cloud-seeding technology, which is the process of dropping salt to increase precipitation. However, this has not produced enough rain for the country.

In 2017, the UAE’s government allocated $15 million dollars for various projects involving rain and encouraging precipitation.

One of the projects is being led by the scientists at the University of Reading, England.

According to Maarten Ambaum, a professor working on the project, the main objective is to shift the balance of the electric charge contained within the clouds’ water droplets. The professor told the BBC the UAE’s water table has been sinking significantly and the project’s purpose is to help the water table rise back up using rainfall that their drones would generate.

There are numerous clouds around the country, which would have been a big help if they did produce rain regularly. The lack of rain is why scientists are planning to make water droplets in the clouds combine with each other using static electricity. When they merge into a big enough droplet, it becomes rain, BBC reported.

During an interview with Arab News, the director of the rain-enhancement science-research program in the UAE, Alya Al-Mazroui, stated the drones are equipped with “electric-charge emission instruments and customized sensors.” The drones will be flying at a low altitude, where they will be emitting electric charges to the molecules of air to try and generate rainfall.

The drones are currently being evaluated and will start their tests soon near Dubai. If the study succeeds, more funding will be confirmed and the scientists may experiment with a larger aircraft and payload next.

Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the tallest structure in the world, and a symbol of the oil-rich UAE Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the tallest structure in the world, and a symbol of the oil-rich UAE Photo: AFP / Giuseppe CACACE