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Sun 1 May 2016 09:50 AM

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Exclusive: UAE mulls ‘man-made mountain’ in bid to improve rainfall

$400,000 grant made to experts at University of Atmospheric Research to conduct research into ideal size and location of mountain

Exclusive: UAE mulls ‘man-made mountain’ in bid to improve rainfall

The UAE is currently in the first stage of a man-made mountain development project as the country mulls different approaches to maximising rainfall.

Experts from the US-based University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), which manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) are in the “detailed modelling study” phase, NCAR scientist and lead researcher Roelof Bruintjes told Arabian Business.

“What we are looking at is basically evaluating the effects on weather through the type of mountain, how high it should be and how the slopes should be,” said Bruintjes. “We will have a report of the first phase this summer as an initial step.”

In collaboration with the National Center of Meteorology & Seismology (NCMS), the UCAR received a fund of $400,000 in February last year to propose a “detailed modelling study evaluating the effects of building a mountain on the weather”.

The presence of mountains forces air to rise, creating clouds that can then be seeded, Bruintjes said.

Cloud seeding, a weather modification process designed to increase the amount of rainfall produced from clouds, has a permanent unit at the NCMS’s meteorological department, which conducts operations across the UAE.

The department recently revealed $558,000 was spent on UAE cloud-seeding last year.

“Building a mountain is not a simple thing,” added Bruintjes. “We are still busy finalising assimilation, so we are doing a spread of all kinds of heights, widths and locations [as we simultaneously] look at the local climatology.”

The specific location has not yet been determined as the NCAR experts are still testing out different sites across the UAE.

“If [the project] is too expensive for [the government], logically the project won’t go through, but this gives them an idea of what kind of alternatives there are for the long-term future,” Bruintjes said. “If it goes through, the second phase would be to go to an engineering company and decide whether it is possible or not.”

Mountains play an important role in influencing global and regional climates and weather conditions. By intercepting the global circulation of air, they have a decisive effect on wind, precipitation and temperature patterns, according to a Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) 2011 report.

scott wolf 3 years ago

If It can be done...the UAE will do it...Awesome guys!

riosh 3 years ago

super interesting!

JAC 3 years ago

They already have. It's called Dubai Marina and it definitely has its own microclimate.

john 3 years ago

I am very pleased to note that one of our students' ideas generated through the Landscape Design course in recent years at the American University in Dubai and discussed at landscape summits in the UAE has been picked up by the authorities. With the amount of earth-fill materials generated each year, the massing of the 'mountain' can be steadily achieved. Appropriate tree types will need to be carefully selected and planted while exposure and orientation of the mountain sides will require accurate computer modelling. Much research is still required but the signs are encouraging for positive, local climate change.

Eco Futurelab 3 years ago

Plants ,plants ,plants if you want rain, there are many plants you can create a Oasis after oasis.. trouble is most chase property without a consideration to the future.

Cedric Wade 3 years ago

Trees and initial irrigation are far cheaper. I believe there are trials in Western North Africa at desert reclamation using trees near the coast.

Mark Z 3 years ago

Another gimmick by the so called and self appointed experts. Are they trying to compete with nature?

Omar 3 years ago

Holland considered doing this too, it would have cost them 300 billion (yes, billion) Euros. The plan never saw the day of light for the ridiculously high cost.

Subhan Satopay 3 years ago

UAE already have mountains in Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, one in Al Ain....Dubai has none.


Garbage dumps can play some role...instead of digging and dumping, garbage dumps can systematically developed to grow upward..and then cover with stones and fertile soils layers...it may take decades but its feasible.

Maxim 3 years ago

There are other methods to make more rainfall. Artificial rain by utilising sunlight, for example. See "Geshem Project" where the idea is described. Such method should be many cheaper than man-made mountains.