Rain Enhancement Programme drives innovation in water security

Rain Enhancement Programme drives innovation in water security

Three researchers from the US, China and Russia to share $5m grant for their work on cloud seeding techniques

Abu Dhabi: The winners for the third cycle of the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science were awarded on Wednesday for their innovative projects on cloud seeding techniques, as the programme continues to lead the way in supporting initiatives in the field of rain enhancement.

A total grant of $5 million will be allocated to the three winners — Professor Eric Frew from the US, Dr Lulin Xue from China, and Dr Ali Abshaev from Russia respectively — with the money providing a major boost in further advancing the projects of the awardees.

Launched in 2015 under the patronage of Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, the programme is managed by the National Centre of Meteorology (NCM), which aims to address the challenge of water security by promoting and supporting advanced scientific research in the field of rain enhancement.

“The UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science demonstrates our leadership in strengthening global water security and devising the innovative solutions needed to aid people around the world at risk of water stress,” said Shaikh Mansour, commenting on the programme’s impact.

“It is imperative for all of us to devote our resources and employ creative thinking to secure sustainable supplies of clean water. As rapidly expanding populations place increasing pressure on limited water sources, the UAE is playing a dynamic and imaginative role in advancing the science and technology needed to ensure water for all in need,” he said

Ahmad Juma Al Zaabi, Deputy Minister of Presidential Affairs, and chairman of the Board of Trustees at the NCM, hailed the third cycle of the programme, and said the programme continued to provide new and innovative solutions for addressing water security.

“The late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE, laid the cornerstone for the country’s sustainable development, and following in his vision the UAE is working on providing innovative solutions on the issue of water security,” he said.

“The UAE launched the Research Programme for Rain Enhancement in 2015… and has become one of the key pillars of the country’s national strategy towards innovation,” he added.

“The programme has achieved outstanding progress [through the projects it has supported] to help with resolving water shortages,” he said.

Dr Abdullah Al Mandous, Director at the NCM, said the Rain Enhancement Programme was a sign of the UAE’s commitment towards tackling global water security challenges.

“The UAE is now a pioneer when it comes to global efforts in addressing water security… We are positive that this programme will continue to help us in creating new scientific achievements that will have real tangible results on the ground. I hope that we can bring water to the driest places on earth.”

Commenting on the increased numbers of scientists involved in the third cycle of the programme, Alya Al Mazroui, director of the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science, said that the number of applicants rose by 120 percent compared to the previous year.

“The third cycle of the programme was more successful this year and saw a 120 percent increase in the number of applications. In total, there were 201 submissions received from 68 countries around the world.

“Our programme demonstrates our country’s ability to lead through bold and transformative thinking for the benefit of future generations… We will continue to strive towards new heights,” she added.

The winners

Dr Lulin Xue, Hua Xin Chuang Zhi Science and Technology Centre, China

Proposal: Dr Xue and his team plan to use advanced experimental and numerical approaches to better understand the fundamental physics of rain enhancement science, which in turn can lead to better techniques and rain enhancement results.

“As the world’s population continues to get bigger with water consumption increasing, it becomes crucial to maintain our water supplies, and that is why rain enhancement programmes are so important because they are a way for us to produce rainfall,” said Dr Xue.

Dr Ali Abshaev, Hail Suppression Research Centre, Russia

Proposal: Dr Abshaev and his team are proposing the creation of artificial updrafts applying solar power that will lead to the formation of clouds that will produce rainfall.

“I am very proud and excited to be involved with the UAE’s Rain Enhancement Programme, I believe that this initiative will have a lot of positive effects on a global scale,” said Dr Abshaev.

“Rain enhancement methods have already produced a lot of good results in many countries, with precipitation levels increasing by 25-30 percent in some cases thanks to this technique. So the potential for such weather technologies is really big, and must be something countries with water scarcity should be looking to develop,” he added.

Professor Eric Frew, University of Colorado Boulder, US

Proposal: The project will be split into two parts; first, drones will be used to identify and find areas of clouds that are suitable for cloud seeding, after this process is complete, the next step will be to send a different drone into such observed clouds for cloud seeding to produce rainfall.

“This is a really exciting programme and a unique opportunity to work in this field [of rain enhancement]… Pulling together an international team of experts not just from my country, but from several others around the world who would not have had that opportunity if it were not for this programme,” he said.