Scientists attempt to take charge of the weather by electrifying clouds

The United Arab Emirates is finally ready to test out a new method of triggering rain in water-scarce regions that involves jolting clouds with electricity.

The plan is to catapult small autopiloted aircraft into the sky that will then get close enough to send an electric charge through the clouds. Although the UAE has been funding scientists to do this research, the idea of electrically zapping clouds was proposed by the University of Reading in the UK back in 2017. Tests have been conducted in the UK and in Finland, but this will be the first time a test will take place in the UAE.

Like many countries in arid areas, the UAE endures long periods of drought that are becoming even more extreme with climate change. There is a dire need to develop technology that can generate fresh rainwater for these countries. Keri Nicoll, one of the investigators on the project, says that being able to test in the UAE will give the researchers and scientists a better idea of how viable this method is.

So far, the team has discovered that when clouds are electrically charged, smaller water droplets can merge to form bigger droplets that then fall as rain. Conducting the test in a hot region like the UAE will reveal whether these droplets will reach the surface, or whether the hot temperatures will cause them to evaporate. The main goal of this method is to create droplets that are big enough to survive the fall to the earth.

According to World Wildlife Fund, at least two-thirds of the world’s population will face water scarcity by 2025, so it is urgent that we prioritize programs that can address the issue of water shortages.

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