UAE rain enhancement programme oversees research flights campaign

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The UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science is set to oversee and support an intensive campaign of research flights to gather data and take measurements by Dr. Paul Lawson, one of the programme’s second cycle awardees, in August.

As the founder of SPEC Incorporated and a renowned participant in over 50 international research projects related to weather modification, Dr. Lawson’s research project, entitled ‘Microphysics of Convective Clouds and the Effects of Hygroscopic Seeding’, is developing a new approach to rain enhancement that leverages ice production processes in cumulus clouds to enhance rain.

Commenting on the campaign, Dr. Abdullah Al Mandous, Director of the National Centre for Meteorology, NCM, which manages the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science, said, "The UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science is inspired by the conviction that our common water security challenges can only be addressed through knowledge-sharing and cooperation with international partners. Through our efforts in collaboration with the programme awardees, we are continuing to develop global research networks, lead international scientific and technological innovation, and implement real solutions to advance water security."

Set to take place from Al Ain Airport in August, Dr. Lawson’s flights will involve a custom-designed Learjet research aircraft equipped with sophisticated sensors and measurement probes to take measurements and gather data. As a key part of the planning process for the flight campaign, the NCM’s dual polarimetric radar data has been analysed to help determine the most advantageous locations and times to ensure the flight campaign achieves the best possible results.

Commenting on his research, Dr. Lawson said, "The UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science is an exciting initiative that is accelerating international research in cloud seeding science and technologies. The programme has brought together some of the best minds working on cloud seeding and weather phenomena and is already yielding real results through innovations and applications that could have great benefits for arid and semi-arid regions."

Alya Al Mazroui, Director of the Research Programme, said, "The excellent progress by Dr. Lawson and his team confirms the programme’s significant impact in terms of supporting and enabling advanced research in the field. By supporting the most innovative ideas from our awardees and strengthen the cooperation between the experts, we are developing imaginative solutions to the challenge of water scarcity by leveraging a broad spectrum of active research projects to advance new rain enhancement methods and help alleviate water stress worldwide."

Dr. Lawson’s work is based on the phenomenon of large "supercooled" drops in clouds that remain unfrozen at temperatures below zero degrees Celsius then the gradual freezing process will create and emitting tiny ice particles. After colliding with other large supercooled drops, these particles produce an avalanche process that freezes the remaining large drops into small hail stones that can melt into rain as they fall. Seeding in the updraft at cloud base with water attracting material could facilitate the development of large drops that are required to generate the natural secondary ice process.

Dr Lawson’s team has already completed extensive preparatory work investigating cumulus clouds with a large range of cloud base temperatures and drop size distributions to determine which combinations can be effectively treated by cloud seeding to enhance rainfall. The research flight campaign will be followed by intensive data analysis and numerical modeling, with the ultimate aim being to determine what types of cumulus clouds are suitable for enhancing rain via hygroscopic seeding.

Launched under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, and managed by the NCM as the UAE’s sole responsible body for meteorological services, the UAE Research programme for Rain Enhancement Science is a leading global hub of advanced expertise in a broad range of scientific fields dedicated to addressing water security challenges through innovative research.

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