April 13, 2021

National Center of Meteorology Launches UAV Campaign to Evaluate Effectiveness of Electric Charge Emission in Enhancing Rainfall

Abu Dhabi-UAE: 9 March, 2021 –The National Center of Meteorology (NCM), through the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science (UAEREP), has launched a research campaign to evaluate the effectiveness of electric charge emission in modifying the behavior of cloud droplets in the UAE environment, and consequently enhancing the rainfall process.

Led by Giles Harrison, Professor of Atmospheric Physics at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom and a second cycle program awardee, the campaign is conducted with the support of experts from NCM, UAEREP and several local and international research and academic organizations including the University of Reading and University of Bath in the United Kingdom.

Taking place at SANAD Academy, the campaign uses advanced Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) equipped with a payload of electric charge emission instruments and customized sensors. Developed and tested in the UK and Finland, the effectiveness of the payload for charge emission and electrification is tested in clear air days in the UAE and then, once conditions permit, in light fog events as the presence of dust particles in the UAE atmosphere is expected to lead to more highly charged conditions.

The UAVs fly at low altitudes around a meteorological mast instrumented with an electric field mill. Charge is emitted by the UAV and detected at the surface by the electric field mill.

His Excellency Dr. Abdulla Al Mandous, Director of the National Center of Meteorology (NCM) and President of the Regional Association II (Asia), said: “NCM and the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science are continuing to support the awardee projects to contribute to the development of viable solutions for the growing global water stress. Such efforts are crucial in driving and encouraging innovation in applied scientific research to advance global rain enhancement capacity. With the continued support of our wise leadership, NCM is committed to mitigating the risk of water stress on arid and semi-arid regions around the world, while enhancing the country’s status as global hub for rain enhancement research.”

For her part, Alya Al Mazroui, Director of the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science, said: “The support provided by UAEREP to its awardees articulates the program’s relentless quest to working closely with its awardees in every stage of their cutting-edge research work, as we seek to ensure that their projects are geared towards addressing the challenges facing water security in arid regions. Through our partnerships with prominent scientists and research institutions across the globe, the program is accelerating the development of practical innovative solutions in the field of rain enhancement science.”

The nature of charge emission technology allows to use a small and lightweight platform to deliver charge into the clouds instead of traditional cloud seeding payloads which require much larger aircraft. This method does not involve the emission of any solid particles into clouds such as silver iodide or salt.

Commenting on the significance of his research work, Professor Giles Harrison, said: “Our project aims to evaluate the importance of charge in affecting the cloud droplet size distribution and rainfall generation through modifying the behaviour of droplets and particles and studying the microphysical and electric properties of fog events. We are using UAVs in our test campaigns as they provide a cost effective and flexible method of delivering charge to cloud layer altitudes. We thank NCM and UAEREP for their continued support in deploying advanced equipment to realize the objectives of our research project.”

The UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science (UAEREP), managed by the National Centre of Meteorology (NCM), announced the launch of its fourth cycle at the recently concluded fifth International Rain Enhancement Forum (IREF), which convened virtually under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs. Submissions are open to innovative project proposals from across the globe.

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