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
By Karen Leigh
Mon 03 Jan 2011 04:37 PM

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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