Dr Abdulla Al Mandous (extreme right) with Dr Bradley Baker (extreme left) and members of the UAEREP delegation in Boulder, Colorado, USA Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: A delegation from UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science (UAEREP) on Monday visited Dr Bradley Baker, an awardee of the programme’s 4th Cycle, in Boulder, Colorado in the United States to mark the inception of his innovative new project titled ‘Improving the chemical and physical properties of seeding materials through electric charge’.

Led by Dr Abdulla Al Mandous, Director-General of the National Center for Meteorology (NCM) and President of the Regional Association II of the World Meteorological Organisation’s Asian Region, the UAEREP delegation and Dr Baker discussed an ambitious study that will involve a partnership with two 2nd Cycle Award winners from the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) and the University of Reading, UK, to build on results from previous studies in the UAE.

Dr Baker is a Principal Investigator at SPEC Incorporated and an expert with decades of experience in cloud physics and airborne and radar measurements of clouds. His project will incorporate sophisticated numerical simulations of cumulus clouds built on measurements using a SPEC Incorporated Learjet research aircraft in unison with the NCM’s own King Air cloud seeding aircraft. To complement this work, the FMI will simulate the effects of cloud seeding using hygroscopic nanomaterials previously developed at Khalifa University in the UAE.

Dr Al Mandous said: “Our visit is giving us the opportunity to assess the progress of Dr Baker’s highly innovative research project, which will enable us to build on the breakthrough work undertaken by previous programme awardees. We are confident that this project will further enhance our understanding of the materials that can most effectively induce precipitation from suitable clouds. The NCM through the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science will continue to drive global research networks and leverage the latest international scientific and technological innovation in the field of rain enhancement.”

How it works

The University of Reading has developed miniature electric charge generators that can be attached to the King Air seeding aircraft. The charge generators can coagulate aerosol particles below cloud bases into a size range that may enhance the effects of the hygroscopic nanomaterial seeding agents. The FMI will run numerical simulations of clouds with data gathered when the nanomaterial seeding agent and the electric charge generators have been used and when they haven’t. The SPEC Learjet will also take measurements in clouds both with and without the agent and generators present to generate additional data to compare with the FMI simulations.

Dr Al Mandous said the project will further enhance our understanding of the materials that can most effectively induce precipitation from suitable clouds Image Credit: Supplied

Commenting on the visit, Alya Al Mazroui, director of the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science, said: “Regular meetings with our awardees enable us to provide support and pool our joint expertise to ensure that these innovative projects will have the maximum impact in terms of new knowledge and its applications. Our visit to Dr Baker ensures that his exciting project will have the maximum impact as the UAE leads the way in building global networks and pooling knowledge gained from diverse research projects to ensure the scientific and technological advancement of rain enhancement as an increasingly important field.”

Overall aim

Dr Baker said: “The overall goal of this project is to determine if the effects of the nanomaterial seeding agent and electric charge generators will stimulate a secondary ice process (SIP) that may potentially lead to rain enhancement. Previous observations indicate that the SIP occurs naturally in tropical cumulus clouds where cloud base temperatures are generally warmer than 20C. Previous measurements suggest that the millimeter-diameter drops rise in an updraft and then freeze and fracture to produce small ice particles that ‘seed’ the cloud. Our research will investigate whether nanomaterial seeding agents and electric charge generators can stimulate the coalescence process and natural SIP that may lead to rain enhancement.”

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Launched by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs of the UAE and managed by the National Centre of Meteorology (NCM), the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science’s active international engagement has already assured its leading position in the global quest to address water security challenges through innovative scientific and technical research.

By driving international efforts to strengthen water security through promoting scientific best practices and collaboration in rain enhancement research, the programme is helping the UAE fulfil its ambitious vision to become a leading global knowledge economy.