Abu Dhabi-backed scientists create fake rainstorms in $11m project

Government-backed project uses ionisers to create rain in Al Ain during summer heat

The project reportedly caused 52 rainstorms in Al Ain during the summer months of 2010

The project reportedly caused 52 rainstorms in Al Ain during the summer months of 2010

Scientists working for the Abu Dhabi government created more than 50 rainstorms in Al Ain in July and August of 2010, during the peak of the emirate’s summer months.

The rains are part of a secret $11m project, reportedly commissioned by HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, which used ionisers to generate storms, the UK’s Sunday Times said.

It is thought to be the first time the team had produced man-made rain from otherwise clear skies.

According to the report, scientists used large ionisers, which resemble lampshades, to generate fields of negatively charged particles. That in turn creates cloud formation, leading to rain.

Over 122 days through the summer months, the emitters were switched on 74 times when atmospheric humidity reached the required level of 30 percent or more.

During that time, Al AIn experienced rainfall on 52 occasions on days when the country’s own weather service had predicted no clouds and no rain.

The fake storms went so far as to produce hail, wind gales and even lightning, baffling residents.

Helmut Fluhrer, founder of Meteo Systems International, the Swiss company in charge of the project, appeared in a private company video promoting the project.

 “We are currently operating our innovative rainfall enhancement technology, Weathertec, in the region of Al Ain in Abu Dhabi. We started in June 2010 and have achieved a number of rainfalls,” he said in the video, according to the paper.

The project was monitored by the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, a leading tank for the study of atmospheric physics.

Professor Hartmut Grassl, a former institute director, told the paper that “there are many applications. One is getting water into a dry area. Maybe this is a most important point for mankind.”


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Posted by: JHW

It is so sad that so many people have only negative things to say about such a wonderful achievement. Any thing new must be a disaster of some sort. Oh, that an age such as this will soon die!

I wish to congratulate all who are responsible for this achievement and encourage them to continue development. May they create a cloudburst every time they try.

Posted by: WalterC

There are more basic fundamental long term actions that should be taken to create the right environmental condition to sustain life in areas undergoing desertification. These basic principles if applied consistently will also on long periods reverse desert conditions. From my own observations detrimental actions by men as caused desertification in many regions of the world and these are ever expanding. Given back the right conditions rains will return. Presently certain management practices in Al Ain are adversely working against what these rain makers are trying to achieve!

Posted by: RWR

There was nothing "fake" about the storms. "Fake rain" is when you spray water into the air and call it rain as happens on a sound stage for movies. These were weather events caused by direct human intervention. Scientists manipulated natural factors to achieve a desired result.

Experiments on weather modification funded by the President's Private Department have been going on since at least 2000. There are papers available online regarding earlier experiments on the site of the US National Center for Atmospheric Research. Google NCAR UAE.

Please use appropriate language instead of trying to sensationalize this by calling it "fake".

Posted by: Sandpiper

What is the point of making a few drops of rain when the temperatures are in the 40's, it will evaporate the moment it touches the searing sand. Given the climate in this region, and the lowest water reserves in the world, we will just have to rely on expensive desalination, and turn a blind eye to the environmental impacts.

Posted by: Jim

After nearly 60 years of experimenting with this around the world it has still not been proven to work, some scientists believe that it can have dangerous environmental side effects. I agree that unless the rainfall was extremely heavy in an ultra hot region like the UAE it is likely, as with normal rainfall there, that the water would evaporate either before it hit the ground or shortly thereafter.

Posted by: Jebel Ali Baba

Just because you don't get it it doesn't mean it is senseless.

Al Ain area actually has water reservoirs, water distribution systems and even natural ground water. The seeded clouds don't rain in the desert but the close by mountains. From there the natural water is getting distributed.

Desalinated water is a pest to the environment. It is generated together with the power production but the salty remains are led back into the Gulf leading to a higher and higher salination.

So every drop of natural rainwater is precious to this region and its people.

Posted by: Johnnie

(Professor Hartmut Grassl, a former institute director, told the paper that ?there are many applications. One is getting water into a dry area. Maybe this is a most important point for mankind.?)

This will indeed be one of the most important points in mankind. I honestly wonder if this will be a positive point though. We are on shaky grounds whenever atmosphere is concerned.

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