National Center of Meteorology Hosts Successful 6th Edition of International Rain Enhancement Forum
Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Court, the National Center of Meteorology (NCM), through the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science (UAEREP) hosted a highly successful sixth edition of the International Rain Enhancement Forum (IREF) from 24 to 26, January 2023.
Organized as a biennial forum, IREF provides a global platform for discussion of the latest developments and efforts to find innovative solutions to water security issues through advancing scientific understanding and sharing knowledge in rain enhancement. The event also aims to consolidate the UAE position as a global hub in rain enhancement research.
In addition to drawing the participation of more than 500 international and national experts, researchers and scientists in rain enhancement and weather modification, the event hosted 46 guest speakers and panelists from 18 countries including Her Excellency Mariam Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, His Excellency Prof. Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), His Excellency Dr. Abdulla Al Mandous, Director General of NCM, and President of the Regional Association II (Asia), and Her Excellency Dr. Nawal Al Hosany, UAE’s Permanent Representative at IRENA, among other dignitaries.
This year, IREF spotlighted major developments within regional and global rain enhancement programs by hosting guest speakers from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Ethiopia, South Africa and South Korea. Sharing insights and experiences from their respective cloud seeding programs, the panelists explained how cutting-edge technologies and scientific research are playing a crucial role in the success of their programs.
His Excellency Prof. Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), lauded the UAE’s prominent role in advancing the science and technology of rain enhancement globally through the financial and technical support offered by NCM and UAEREP to researchers and scientists from across the globe. He noted that the rain enhancement has proven to be an efficient and sustainable way to mitigate the impact of climate change by producing promising results on the ground.
For his part, His Excellency Dr. Abdulla Al Mandous, Director General of NCM, and President of the Regional Association II (Asia), said: “Through IREF, we continue to provide a global platform for key decision makers, researchers and specialists in water security and rain enhancement research to discuss the latest developments in their projects, exchange knowledge and transfer technology. This aligns with the UAE’s sustained efforts to promote international collaboration to address water security and climate change challenges, while enabling key stakeholders to move forward with our collective quest to achieve water and environmental sustainability.”
Launch of UAEREP’s 5th Cycle
During the Forum, UAEREP announced the call for submissions for its 5th Cycle that offers winning research proposals a grant of up to US$1.5 million (AED5.511 million). In its latest cycle, the program welcomes innovative research proposals with a focus on two high-priority areas: Enhancing cloud formation and rain enhancement.
Registration of proposals for the Fifth Cycle is open till March 9, 2023, and pre-proposals should be submitted by March 16, 2023. Those invited to submit full proposals will be notified on May 26, 2023, and will be asked to send their full proposals by August 24, 2023.
The winning projects will be selected by a rigorous, two-stage merit review process and the awardees will be announced in January 2024. The awardees will receive a grant of up to US$1.5 million, distributed over three years, with a maximum annual amount of $550K for each winning research proposal.
Day 1 Sessions
- Plenary Session: ‘Water Security in the Global Climate Agenda’
The session was led by leading experts in environmental sustainability, water security and climate change mitigation including Her Excellency Dr. Nawal Al Hosany, UAE’s Permanent Representative at IRENA, His Excellency Essa Al Hashmi, Assistant Undersecretary for the Sustainable Communities Sector and Acting Assistant Undersecretary for the Green Development and Climate Change Sector at MoCCAE, Prof. Juerg Luterbacher, Director, Science and Innovation Department and Chief Scientist, World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and Dr. Mohamed Mahmoud, Director, Climate and Water Program, Middle East Institute, Washington DC, USA.
This session focused on the implications of changing precipitation patterns on freshwater security in view of climate change, and discussed ways and innovative solutions to combat and prepare for adverse effects–especially in the case of arid and semi-arid regions.
- Session One: ‘Opportunities and Challenges for Implementation of Rainfall Enhancement Models and Technologies’
The first session of the opening day discussed ‘Opportunities and Challenges for Implementation of Rainfall Enhancement Models and Technologies’ and hosted Dr. Eric Xing, President, Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), who delivered the opening speech. The session covered issues related to the implementation of advancements in the rain enhancement field, such as pushing the state-of-the-art methods in numerical weather modeling toward operation implementation, logistical challenges and other obstacles to transitioning from research to operational environments in rain enhancement, which include strategies, case studies, and TRL consideration; evaluating and communicating rainfall enhancement results; and evaluation of impacts of rain enhancement efforts.
- Session Two: ‘New Approaches and Innovations for Rainfall Enhancement’
Titled ‘New Approaches and Innovations for Rainfall Enhancement’, the second session drew the participation of His Excellency Omran Sharaf, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for Advanced Science and Technology, who delivered the opening speech. The session examined innovative research and advancements in rain enhancement including the integration of innovative ground-based, airborne, and space-based platforms to provide new insights into cloud formation and rainfall enhancement, the deployment of artificial intelligence and intelligent systems in meteorology and rainfall enhancement, and advances in artificial cloud formation.
Day 2 Sessions
- Session Three: “Scientific Advances in Rainfall Enhancement”
The session was opened by Dr. Ray Johnson, CEO of the Technology Innovation Institute (TII) and featured a distinguished group of researchers and specialists. It examined the importance of sound scientific experimental design in rainfall enhancement studies; scientific advances contributing to cloud formation and rainfall enhancement; the critical characteristics of cloud seeding agents to promote warm-, cold- and mixed phase processes leading to precipitation; and advances in cloud chambers and cloud chamber studies.
- Session Four: “Regional and Global Developments in Rainfall Enhancement”
Omar Al Yazeedi, Deputy Director General, NCM, delivered the opening speech of the fourth session that offered insights and experiences from various rain enhancement programs locally and globally. The session hosted speakers from Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Ethiopia, South Africa, South Korea, and the United States who outlined the latest findings and takeaways from their respective programs.
Day 3 Sessions
- Session Five: “Capacity Building within the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science”
The session highlighted the efforts of higher education institutions and initiatives around the world to enable the next generation of students to build upon and further develop meteorological sciences. The session hosted prominent panelists including Engineer Mohamed Al Wahidi, Chairperson of Youths for Sustainable Development Goals Council at the Federal Youth Authority, and an engineer in seismic engineering at NCM.
The session also saw the participation of students from the UAE, the United States, Russia and South Africa who shared key findings from their research work in the fields of weather modification and rain enhancement science. Ahmad Al Kamali Cloud Seeding Executor at NCM, shared a presentation on ‘Electrical Measurements of Fog in the UAE’, and Noor Al Shamsi, Numerical Forecasting Specialist at NCM presented on the topic of ‘The UAE Cloud Seeding Program: A Statistical and Physical Evaluation’.
- Session Six: Open-format session
The last session of the Forum presented an outlook on current research gaps and targeted solutions in rain enhancement research and brought together a line-up of experts in the fields of atmospheric science, hydrology, meteorology and weather modification to discuss and determine the pathways to move forward in advancing the science of rain enhancement. The session shared the outcomes from a WMO report and its global rain enhancement programs and initiatives.
The UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science (UAEREP) is an international research initiative launched by the Presidential Court in the UAE and managed by NCM. Since its inception, the program has forged strong ties with more than 1,800 researchers from over 800 institutions in 70 countries across 4 continents. The program awardees have published 84 peer-reviewed articles, registered 5 patents, and participated in over 100 specialized conferences.