Dubai: The National Center of Meteorology (NCM), through the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science (UAEREP), has announced the start of its latest innovative project this week, during a visit to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, University of California San Diego. Led by Dr Luca Delle Monache, deputy director of the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E), the project will deploy artificial intelligence (AI) to achieve enhanced precipitation nowcasting.
By leveraging ground-based and spaceborne data sets and operational numerical weather prediction products used in cloud seeding operations, Dr Delle Monache’s team will assist operational rainfall enhancement programmes around the world by utilising AI algorithms to generate significantly improved weather forecasts.
Dr Abdulla Al Mandous, director of NCM and president of the Regional Association II (Asia) of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said: “The continued support extended by NCM to the Program awardees demonstrates our commitment to achieving the UAE’s wise leadership’s vision to ensure long-term water security and sustainability. Through strengthening partnerships with top international research institutions and key stakeholders in rain enhancement research, the Center is scaling up its response to the growing water stress challenges worldwide. Such efforts will help us develop innovative solutions and contribute new knowledge for the benefit of those in need of freshwater resources in water-scarce and arid regions.”
Diverse array of research
Alya Al Mazroui, director of the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science, said: “Dr Delle Monache’s exciting new project will open up a range of potentially fruitful new research directions that will complement the excellent work that has already been done by our other awardees. Their established projects cover a diverse array of research areas and technologies such as nanotechnology to accelerate water condensation and droplet formation, cloud electrical properties analysis, advanced experimental-numerical approaches to develop rain enhancement solutions and achieve water security, UAVs, algorithm-based data processing, convergence zone analysis, ice nucleation, and aerosol seeding.”
The focal point of the new project will be the creation of an AI research and operations testbed in the UAE. A novel AI framework will be built to combine satellite observations, ground-based weather radar data, rain gauges, and numerical weather prediction estimates to extract features and generate products that could determine optimal cloud seeding timings and locations. In addition, the new framework is designed to generate highly accurate quantitative precipitation estimates for rainfall enhancement program evaluation.
Extrapolating satellite and radar data
According to Dr Delle Monache: “An advanced deep learning algorithm will be designed to learn from thousands of examples drawn from historical data and effectively extract and extrapolate inputs and the required cloud features needed to predict new cloud formations that could be seeded. These features and inputs will be combined with extrapolated satellite and radar data and numerical weather prediction data and rain gauges to provide inputs for an AI-based model that can generate precipitation predictions up to six hours in the future.”
To expand rain enhancement capabilities in the UAE, the multidisciplinary team expects to deliver a prototype of the AI-based predictive capabilities that will be deployed for use at the National Center for Meteorology (NCM) in Abu Dhabi through a research and operations partnership. This will allow the centre to identify optimal cloud characteristics, timings, and seeding locations and enhance quantitative precipitation estimates for rain enhancement in the UAE through deploying a prototype AI-based system at NCM for precipitation nowcasting between zero-six hours.
Application of new technologies
In just a few years, the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science has established itself as a leading international cluster of cutting-edge scientific research based on the investigation and application of new technologies to weather and clouds.
By driving international efforts to strengthen water security through promoting scientific best practices and collaboration in rain enhancement research, the Program is helping the UAE fulfill its ambitious vision to make the country a leading global knowledge economy.