The United Arab Emirates has provided the National Center for Atmospheric Research with $400,000 to study the effects of an artificial mountain on the weather. The idea comes from the phenomenon of orographic precipitation.
The research aims to review how moist air rises on mountains to subsequently form clouds that are able to precipitate. The rain then falls on the side of the mountain that faced the wind as the clouds originated, while the other side receives much less precipitation.
Making it rain in the UAE
The United Arab Emirates has spent over half a million dollars in seeding clouds, a process in which clouds are sprinkled with ice particles to induce rain. As it is one of the driest countries in the world, this proved as a short-term and fairly unpredictable solution, since over 11 inches of rainfall poured down the country on the same day. The UAE expect to form clouds through orographic precipitation and then perhaps seed them with particles to hopefully see a more predictable level of natural precipitation within the country.
The National Center for Atmospheric Research is evaluating the dimensions of the mountain and the characteristics of its slopes, as the phenomenon is already known to exist. The mountain is expected to ramp air mass up to the sky, diverting into a better likelihood of forcing clouds to precipitate and subsequently, producing rain.
Although there are true concerns and great expectations on the project, there is no certainty as to whether it will go through or not. Even for a wealthy country such as the United Arab Emirates, building a mountain proves to be an expensive task. The project would also make the process of seeding clouds even more expensive.
The struggle for water
If the artificial mountain project proves to be a success, then there would be immense benefits for the population as the UAE spends $60 in desalinating just one cubic meter of sea water, where the same process while using rainwater costs $1 per cubic meter. Also, the average inhabitant of Abu Dhabi is known to consume at least 145 gallons of water a day, at least twice than the rest of the world’s population.
Expected average temperatures in Dubai range 100 to 107 degrees Fahrenheit, while precipitation levels stand at 0 to 0.1 millimeters, according to data collected from the last decade. UAE’s water reserves are expected to extinguish in less than 50 years, so a solution must be found as fast as possible, even if it is as ambitious as building a mountain.
Source: Washington Post