World News

What is cloud seeding and did it play any role in the Dubai floods?

Air passengers stranded and a cat submerged in floodwaters clinging to a car door handle became defining moments this week in Dubai, as the normally arid city was inundated by historic levels of rain. Claims went viral that the deluge was caused by cloud seeding, a technique to increase rainfall that is widely used in the UAE.

But is it really the fault?

Daniel Swainclimatologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that getting to the bottom of the “record-breaking extreme precipitation” requires analyzing the science behind the event and the technique.

“There is currently a disconnect in online discourse between the type of human activities that have likely affected it (greenhouse warming) and those that have been the focus of online conversation to date (l “cloud seeding), and what this means for how we collectively understand our ability to actively influence the weather at different spatial and temporal scales,” he said in an emailed statement.

What is cloud seeding?

Since the downpour in Dubai, many have been wondering if cloud seeding is to blame. But what is cloud seeding and how exactly does it work?

Cloud seeding is a technique used to improve precipitation. According to the Desert Research Institute, scientists do this by placing tiny particles called nuclei in the atmosphere that attach to clouds.

“These cores provide a basis for snowflake formation. After cloud seeding, newly formed snowflakes grow and rapidly fall from the clouds to the Earth’s surface, increasing the snowpack and flow “, explains the institute.

In the Middle East, instead of precipitation as snow, its cloud-seeding program generates increased precipitation.

Scientists typically do cloud seeding in one of two ways: either by using ground-based generators or by distributing the nuclei by aircraft.

A driver walks along a flooded highway after a rainstorm in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, April 17, 2024.

Christopher Pike/Bloomberg via Getty Images

What causes rain in Dubai?

But was the rain in Dubai due to cloud seeding?

“Did cloud seeding play a role? Probably not,” Swain said. “But what about climate change? Probably yes!”

The world continues to experience record temperatures month after month and 2023 was the hottest year on record worldwide. Scientists have found that warmer temperatures increase evaporation, leading to more frequent and intense storms, like the one that occurred in Dubai. These conditions also fuel other extreme weather events, including droughtsputting opposing forces in a situation of intense conflict, which risks putting strain on communities without adequate adaptation.

Andrew Kruczkiewicz, a senior researcher at the Columbia Climate School, told CBS News he doesn’t believe there is currently evidence that cloud seeding pushed the showers over the edge.

“This event had been planned quite well in advance and I think it is unlikely that a cloud seeding operation would go ahead given the intense rainfall that was well forecast,” he said.

The Nations National Emergency Management and Crisis Authority issued weather warnings ahead of the storm’s arrival on Monday, urging people to follow local instructions from authorities and asking them to stay home and only leave in an emergency.

Meteorologist Ryan Maue, former chief scientist for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, gave the Associated Press a more definitive answer: “It’s definitely not seeding of clouds.”

“If this happened with cloud seeding, they would have water all the time,” he said. “…when it comes to controlling individual rainstorms, we’re not far off. And if we were able to do that, I think we would be able to solve much more difficult problems than create a rain shower over Dubai“.

The deluge, he said, “further answers questions about resilience measures built into city planning standard operating procedures.”

“Almost everywhere on Earth there is a risk of flash flooding,” he said. “Yet because it is not the most common type of extreme event, it sometimes falls low on the priority list when decisions need to be made about infrastructure or resilience, or simply urban development in a manner wider.”

How bad were the floods in Dubai?

More than 5.59 inches of rain fell in Dubai in 24 hours. While half a foot of rain may not seem like much numerically, it’s more than the city sees in an average year, and other parts of the UAE have seen even higher levels.

It was a “historic meteorological event”, the official WAM news agency said, adding that it exceeded “anything documented since data collection began in 1949”.

Dubai is normally dry and with an unprecedented downpour like this, the city’s infrastructure was unprepared. Drainage systems were overwhelmed and Dubai International Airport, one of the busiest in the world, had to temporarily halt operations. A passenger on the plane told Reuters that many people were waiting more than 12 hours to resume their journey. Footage from the airport shows planes driving through strange floodwaters.

“More than a year’s worth of rain was recorded in just a few hours,” Kruczkiewicz told CBS News. “And why it’s important to understand is that when you see this amount of rain in a semi-arid and arid area, the soil is not designed to filter the water as quickly as in other areas. … You don’t need that. A lot of water or rain falling in a short period of time causing major problems.”

Is cloud seeding effective?

According to the Desert Research Institute, the effectiveness of cloud seeding depends on the specific project in which it is used. Citing several studies, the institute said this has helped increase overall snowpack in some areas by at least 10% per year. Another study found that a five-year project in New South Wales, Australia, resulted in an increase in snowfall of 14%.

The UAE’s National Center for Meteorology has launched the Rainfall Enhancement Science research program to advance the technology, saying that for drier parts of the world, cloud seeding “could offer a viable and cost-effective supplement to existing water supplies.” Many regions, even beyond the Middle East, suffer from water shortage problems, including Colombia, Mexico And Hawaii.

News Source :
Gn world

jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
Back to top button