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Article:Enhancing rainfall could boost water security while protecting the environment

By: Alya Al Mazroui

On 5 June, this year’s World Environment Day will reaffirm the importance of the small steps we can all take to help protect the natural world and its resources.

Under the theme of “Beat Plastic Pollution”, global gatherings and initiatives involving governments, nonprofit organizations, businesses, universities and schools led by India as the event’s 2018 host country will enhance global public awareness about the need to work together to protect our natural ecosystems through sustainable practices.

With a rich heritage of traditional practice and knowledge accumulated over generations in the management of the environment and natural resources, the UAE offers its own unique perspective on tackling the shared sustainability challenges faced by humanity.

Rising global populations have created an urgent need for sustainable solutions to the many social, economic and environmental challenges raised by the depletion of natural resources.

Reflecting a deep knowledge of working in harmony with nature to mitigate environmental depredation, the UAE government initiated the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science in 2015 under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs of the UAE.

In keeping with the UAE’s Innovation Strategy, this initiative represents the UAE’s ambition to advance and lead the development of rain enhancement science through the most advanced technologies and solutions.

Rain enhancement has the potential to offer a more cost-effective, more sustainable, and a much less environmentally damaging option than other solutions such as desalination. In addition, technological advancements could ensure that the practice becomes an even safer and more affordable technique for enhancing water supplies in the future.

The UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science’s awardees are already breaking new ground in developing new scientific and technological methods that will be applicable to regions subject to water stress around the world.

Cutting-edge work is already underway on employing new algorithms to enhance precipitation understanding, using nanotechnology to accelerate water condensation, analysis of ice production processes in cumulus clouds, the role of atmospheric aerosols in precipitation enhancement, and modification of the electrical properties of clouds.

In addition, further projects commenced this year that will deal with the creation of artificial clouds to induce rain; targeted observation and seeding through unmanned aerial vehicles; and advanced experimental-numerical approaches to rain enhancement.

Through these activities, we are also fulfilling the equally important goal of developing local and global capacities while encouraging and supporting productive research collaboration.

The extent of the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement’s global impact to date is evident from the fact that 1,220 researchers and 520 institutions from more than 50 countries have been involved in this innovative UAE program.

Although the initiative’s immediate aim is to increase the UAE’s rainfall and enhance freshwater supply, the intention is to rely on scientific research to generate results that could be utilized by many countries in arid regions and beyond threatened with water stress.

By taking a lead in scientific and technological research that offers rich potential across many applications, the UAE is already making a real difference in tackling the urgent challenges highlighted by the World Environment Day.

In advancing rain enhancement science through innovation and effective international collaboration, the UAE has once again demonstrated its inspiring and generous vision and commitment to global sustainability and a better future for all humanity.