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Study Uses Geostationary Satellite Data to Assess Seasonal Cloud Properties over the UAE and Adjoining Regions

Declining groundwater reserves and costly desalination plants have prompted the UAE and the neighboring countries with similar arid and semi-arid climatic conditions to search for alternative water resources through rainfall enhancement, specifically cloud seeding. However, a limited number of studies focused on the Arabian Peninsula’s cloud climatology and the seasonal variability in cloud microphysical properties and dynamics, which form the bases for precipitation augmentation through cloud seeding.

Recently, a team led by Professor Masataka Murakami, a First Cycle Awardee of  the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science (UAEREP), and a scientist at Japan’s Meteorological Research Institute, studied cloud properties over the UAE and adjoining areas using two geostationary satellites, namely Meteosat-8 and Meteosat-10 from different orbital viewing angles.

The study reveals interesting aspects of cloud occurrence over the Al Hajar Mountains – the main source of convective clouds and rainfall over the UAE and Oman regions. The winter (February–March) and summer (June–August) seasons indicate a high percentage of clouds forced by extratropical and tropical regimes, respectively.

The study identifies suitable locations to augment precipitation by increasing the precipitation efficiency of clouds through seeding. The results indicate two main types of cloud systems susceptible to cloud seeding over the Al Hajar Mountains, namely mixed-phase summer convective clouds and winter orographic clouds. Currently, only hygroscopic (warm) cloud seeding operations are being conducted over the UAE, however the study suggests the potential of glaciogenic (cold) seeding due to high contents of super-cooled liquid water in winter clouds over the Al Hajar Mountains.The study will be beneficial to the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science as it identified the potential geographical locations for frequent cloud occurrences including the thermodynamic phase that is feasible for cloud seeding to augment rainfall.

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