World Water Day 2022
UAE has embraced rain enhancement technology while finding resourceful ways to highlight the importance of fresh water Image Credit: Gulf News

Reliable water resources are a matter of societal, agricultural, and national security. As the world faces high water stress, there is an increasing imperative for countries to strengthen their water resilience and promote new research, technology, efficient resource conservation and effective international partnerships.

As we commemorate World Water Day, we are witnessing a palpable surge in global interest towards effective water resource management, as countries begin to embrace how effective water resource management enables reliable irrigation, access to clean drinking water, local water sources, management of natural disasters, and hydroelectricity.

The international community is eagerly looking for new ways to efficiently allocate and use water in a manner that is sustainable, equitable, and beneficial for both human beings and the environment. While solutions such as desalination and greywater recycling are viable options, communities need tangible solutions to increase rain and groundwater recharge.

In this era of climate change, where water scarcity threatens millions, innovative solutions like rain enhancement technology have emerged as a driving force. The National Center of Meteorology (NCM), through the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science (UAEREP), continues to stand at the forefront of this movement, dedicated to pioneering rain enhancement research as a sustainable solution for water security.

Rain enhancement technology, also known as cloud seeding, offers water security through harnessing precipitation processesto augment rainfall in regions facing water scarcity. Rain enhancement technology capitalises on the natural cycle of water vapour condensation and cloud formation, resulting in an environmentally safe, adaptive and uniquely cost-effective option to address water security challenges.

As an arid region committed to pioneering water solutions, the UAE has embraced rain enhancement technology while finding resourceful ways to highlight the importance of fresh water.

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Recently, the UAE announced the visionary Mohamed bin Zayed Water Initiative, designed to confront the urgent challenge of water scarcity, enhance awareness, acceleratetechnological innovation, and expand the scope of international cooperation.

Following this launch, UAEREP has extended its reach in the global rain enhancement field by engaging in international conferences and continuing its goals in seeking innovative scientific research projects.

The UAE’s commitment to spearheading global efforts in achieving water security is resolute, epitomised by the Mohammed bin Zayed Water Initiative, as well as the dedication to rain enhancement research embodied by UAEREP. Under these banners, the nation has embraced a proactive stance, channelling resources and expertise towards eco-friendly solutions that promise long-term sustainability.

OPN UAE rain enhancement
The UAE has come a long way in rain enhancement since its first official operations in the 1990s

Cutting-edge research projects

The UAE has come a long way in rain enhancement since its first official operations in the 1990s. We now have more than 60 networked weather stations, an integrated radar network, and five specialised aircraft for seeding operations.

Since its initiation in 2015, UAEREP, a cornerstone of the UAE’s water security strategy, continues to evolve, adapting to the changing landscape of scientific innovation and environmental challenges. With each passing year, the program strengthens its resolve, discovering and funding cutting-edge research projects and fostering international collaborations to push the boundaries of rain enhancement science.

Since the first cycle, UAEREP has funded 14 unique rain enhancement projects, resulting in collaborations in over 85 countries and over $22.5 million of rain enhancement investments. We have additionally acquired eight patents, while our funded projects have been highlighted in prestigious research journals.

UAEREP is keen to establish scientifically validated technology platforms and verification techniques that enhance rainfall and water security in arid and semi-arid regions across the world. We have continually raised our technology readiness levels in distinctive areas such as optimising seeding materials, autonomous technology, geoengineering, and nanotechnology, as well as advanced models, software and data. These specialised focus areas act as a road map towards refining the strategic elements that will bolster rain enhancement operations in our region and beyond.

This past month, UAEREP proudly participated in the prestigious Baku Water Week conference, underscoring its commitment to global dialogue and cooperation in tackling water challenges. This platform provided an invaluable opportunity to exchange knowledge, share insights, and participate on panel discussions aimed at advancing rain enhancement technologies on a global scale.

UAEREP additionally met with many key stakeholders throughout the week, forging partnerships that will contribute to significant progress in combating water scarcity, especially as we look ahead to COP29 in Azerbaijan.

As we reflect on the significance of World Water Day, it’s imperative to acknowledge and appreciate everyone contributing to the quest for water security.

At NCM, we realise that finding such innovative solutions to this global challenge is no easy task, and all the collaborators, scientists, researchers, and meteorological experts deserve our heartfelt appreciationfor their unwavering commitment and dedication.

Together, we are not just addressing the challenges of today; we are shaping a more resilient and water-secure future for generations to come.

Dr. Abdulla Al Mandous is the Director General of the National Center of Meteorology (NCM) and President of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)