Cloud seeding involves firing salt crystal flares into rain-bearing clouds to encourage the release of precipitation Image Credit: NCMS

Abu Dhabi: A total of 219 cloud seeding operations across the UAE were conducted in the first six months of the year to enhance the country’s water supply, the National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) revealed on Monday.

From January to June, a total of 4,841 flares as well as 419 ground generator flares were used by NCM’s Emirates Weather Enhancement Factory.

Cloud seeding enhances rainfall from existing cloud formations. It is done by firing special flares that are loaded with salt crystals into convective clouds. The process then attracts tiny particles of water that collide and become heavier which then fall as rain.

NCM has a sophisticated network of radars that monitor the country’s atmosphere around the clock and provide data on clouds. A team of pilots and technicians analyse the data and carry out cloud seeding operations once they detect seedable clouds.

“The UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science supports the country’s efforts to bring about profound change in addressing water scarcity challenges,” NCM noted.

“Cloud seeding operations demonstrate the importance placed by the UAE on providing sustainable water resources through encouraging research and innovation in water-related technologies,” it added.

The UAE is ranked among the water-stressed countries, with an average rainfall of 100 mm per year, and this is why cloud seeding plays a vital role in ensuring water supply.

“(The UAE’s) ambitious rain enhancement programme aims to increase the annual precipitation levels in an effort to enhance the country’s water security through augmenting its strategic groundwater resources,” NCM underlined.

Dr Abdulla Al Mandous, NCM director and president of the Regional Association II (Asia) of World Meteorological Organisation, said: “The UAE has been a forerunner in adopting rain enhancement technologies in the region. Our state-of-the-art infrastructure, coupled with excellent research and development capabilities have helped the program cement its prominent position in cloud seeding research, and attract top global scientists and research institutions specialised in this important scientific domain.”

According to NCM, the UAE has been carrying out cloud seeding missions since 2004.