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Mon 3 Jan 2011 04:37 PM

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

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

Abu Dhabi-backed scientists create fake rainstorms in $11m project
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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Raj 8 years ago

Interesting! I read a contrasting article the other day of the rulers offering prayers for rain. Whats that about?

Simon 8 years ago

This technology is not new. The USA/Russia and China have been experimenting in this since the 1960's. These nations are leaps and bounds ahead of what is described in the article. However, like ALL experiments that produce a result the Military always look for ways to use it as a weapon.

If you say "what rubbish" to the above...then you do not believe the results of the UAE experiment or you do not have the vision to cast your mind a few years ahead of this technology...which is where the USA/Russia and China are.

I am 100% confident the UAE has no intentions of 'Militarising' the above technology and would look to use it for the good of the nation. Superpowers on the other hand I am way more cynical of. War makes money, Droughts make money, Disasters make money...for the suppliers of 'product'.

ND 8 years ago

"Fake" rain was already done in Dubai in summer 2008. I saw it, it was in the morning around 7h30am/8am.

Mo_Bay 8 years ago

When Science fails, then there is only God.

Johnnie 8 years ago

(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.

Sandpiper 8 years ago

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.

Jebel Ali Baba 8 years ago

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.

Jim 8 years ago

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.

RWR 8 years ago

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".

Jean-Baptiste 8 years ago

Although cloud seeding has been used for decades, this particular system seems a first.

Ground- or air-based cloud seeding is only able to precipitate water out of existing clouds.

This system claims working in blue sky with 30% humidity. It would be the first time a ground-based seeding is able to agglomerate the humidity in the air enough to reach more that 100% and generate liquid water.

I hope it's real and uses low energy. It if works, that will really be a breakthrough for many dry places.