The United Arab Emirates, after achieving the engineering feat of constructing the world’s tallest building, is now planning to make its mark in the field of science. The country is working on a man-made mountain to increase rainfall in the region.
Location, height and width of manmade mountain still undecided
An expert in weather modification programs at NCAR, Roelof Bruintjes, told Arabian Business, “What we are looking at is basically evaluating the effects on weather through the type of mountain, how high it should be and how the slopes should be.”
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The first report on the initiative is expected this summer. In the UAE, discussions about the best location for the artificial mountain and also its width and height are still on. Bruintjes notes that it’s not a “simple thing” to build a mountain and adds that if the project involves too many funds, the government may abandon it. However, it will still give them an idea of the options available for the long term.
If the project goes through, the second phase will be to give it “to an engineering company and decide whether it is possible or not.”
In February 2015, the U.S.-based University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) got funding of $400,000 for this ambitious project, and a team from its National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is now working on it.
The project is based on scientific reasoning that an artificial mountain will force the air to rise, cool, condense and form clouds, eventually resulting in a rainfall. Such a process is called cloud seeding. This is not the first such project by the UAE. In 2015, around $558,000 was spent on 186 cloud seeding missions with the aim of boosting rainfall, but the results were not as expected. A few months ago, cloud seeding turned into a nightmare when in just under 24 hours the region recorded over 11 inches of rainfall.
Water scarcity: a major concern for UAE
For a long time, water scarcity has been a major worry for the Gulf region as growing population and rising economies continue to put a strain on already-limited natural resources. In the UAE, on an average, a resident uses about 550 liters of water daily, which is far lower than the international average of 170 to 300 liters a day, according to the Federal Water and Electricity Authority.
Water demand in the region has grown by a phenomenal 140%, and that at a time when the resources are “already diminishing due to droughts, low rainfall and the prevalent climate,” claims the Al Jazeera Centre for Studies.