Faced with the hot weather, Dubai drops artificial rain

Clouds over Dubai. Illustrative photo. (KARIM SAHIB / AFP)

It’s no secret, it’s very hot in Dubai, especially in summer, 40 to 46 degrees at the moment and regularly over 50 degrees. To refresh the inhabitants, the United Arab Emirates therefore decided to create artificial rain.

Dubai has been working on these projects for several years, notably with the British University of Reading, spending millions of dollars. To create rain, an airplane hovers in the sky of the Emirates and launches drones into the clouds. These drones release electric shocks that cause precipitation.

Authorities have launched these drones 126 times this year. Each flight lasts two or three hours. They did not make the direct link between bad weather and their experiences but on social networks, the United Arab Emirates National Meteorological Center posted numerous images of the rain and 3D videos that model these induced storms.

You have to be careful. In the United Arab Emirates, it rains only about 100mm of water per year normally. So the infrastructures are not designed to assimilate so much rain. And then the inhabitants are not used to it either. Technology causes rain, but does not control its amount and intensity. Highways around Dubai were submerged, traffic was disrupted and some drivers got scared as they had never driven in the rain which blurred visibility.

The United States too, since the 1940s and China since the 1960s, have developed another technique. Inject small amounts of silver iodide into clouds with particularly high humidity. This accelerates the condensation of particles and generates precipitation. In the United States last year, this technique caused a snowstorm in Wyoming.

Artificial showers could be beneficial for agriculture in times of drought. But experts warn: false rain does not always work and it is a punctual response to the real problem: global warming. And then, caution. The Emirati example proves that if we get too close to the clouds, we can burn ourselves… even with water!

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