Home » Dubai: Did cloud seeding really cause the record floods?

Dubai: Did cloud seeding really cause the record floods?

by admin
Dubai: Did cloud seeding really cause the record floods?

  • Author, Mark Poynting and Marco Silva
  • Role, BBC News
  • April 18, 2024

Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, was the scene of record flooding in the last 24 hours, generating misleading speculation that the strong storm that hit the city was caused by “cloud seeding”.

But, after all, the precipitation that left Dubai underwater was unusual — and what caused these torrential rains?

How intense was the precipitation?

Dubai is located on the coast of the United Arab Emirates — and tends to have a very arid climate. But although it receives on average less than 100 mm of rain per year, it suffers from occasional torrential storms.

In the city of Al-Ain, just over 100 km from Dubai, around 256 mm of precipitation was recorded in just 24 hours.

The passage of a low-pressure weather system, which attracted warm, humid air and blocked the passage of other weather systems, was the main cause.

“This part of the world is characterized by long periods without rain, and then by heavy and irregular rainfall, but even so, this was a very rare episode of rain,” explains meteorologist Maarten Ambaum, professor at the University of Reading, in the United Kingdom. , who studied precipitation patterns in the Gulf region.

  • Click here to follow the BBC News Brasil channel on Whatsapp

What was the role of climate change?

It is not yet possible to determine exactly what role climate change has played. This requires a thorough scientific analysis of natural and human factors, which can take several months.

See also  Fatal accident in Phantasialand: Employee dies during roller coaster maintenance work

But the record precipitation is consistent with how the climate is changing.

In short: warmer air is able to hold more moisture — about 7% more for each degree Celsius — which can, in turn, increase the intensity of rainfall.

“The intensity of the rain was record high, but this is consistent with a warmer climate, with more moisture available to fuel storms and make episodes of heavy rain and associated flooding progressively more powerful,” explains Richard Allan, professor of science climate change at the University of Reading.

A recent study suggested that annual rainfall could increase by around 30% in much of the UAE by the end of the century as the world continues to warm.

“If humans continue to burn oil, gas and coal, the climate will continue to warm, the rains will continue to become more intense, and people will continue to lose their lives in floods,” warns Friederike Otto, professor of Climate Science at Imperial College London University, in the United Kingdom.

Credit, Reuters

Photo caption, People walk through flooded streets as a result of flooding caused by heavy rains in Dubai

What is ‘cloud seeding’—and what role did it play?

Cloud seeding involves manipulating existing clouds to help produce more rain.

This can be done by using aircraft to launch small particles (such as silver iodide) into clouds. The water vapor can then condense more easily — and turn into rain.

The technique has been around for decades, and the UAE has turned to it in recent years to help address water scarcity.

See also  Bangu x Vasco da Gama - Live - Campeonato Carioca

In the hours following the floods, some people used social media to falsely attribute the extreme weather phenomenon solely to the country’s recent cloud seeding operations.

Previously published reports by Bloomberg said cloud seeding planes were launched on Sunday and Monday, but not on Tuesday, when the flooding occurred.

Although the BBC was unable to independently verify when cloud seeding occurred, experts say that, at best, it would have had little effect on the storm — and that focusing on cloud seeding is “misleading.”

“Even if cloud seeding stimulated the clouds around Dubai to produce rain, the atmosphere would probably have to be carrying more water to form clouds in the first place due to climate change,” explains Otto.

Cloud seeding is generally implemented when wind, humidity and dust conditions are insufficient to trigger rain. Last week, meteorologists had warned of a high risk of flooding in the Gulf region.

“When such intense and large-scale systems are forecast, cloud seeding — which is an expensive process — is not carried out, because there is no need to ‘seed’ such strong systems on a regional scale,” says Diana Francis, head of Department of Environmental and Geophysical Sciences at Khalifa University, in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Meteorologist Matt Taylor, from BBC Weather, the BBC’s weather forecasting service, also highlighted that the storm had already been predicted.

“Before the event, computer models (which do not take into account the potential effects of cloud seeding) were already predicting that a year’s worth of rain would fall in about 24 hours,” he said.

See also  Influencer Pamela Reif sits at the checkout for a good cause

“The impacts were much broader than I would expect from cloud seeding alone — severe flooding hitting large areas from Bahrain to Oman.”

Cloud seeding missions in the United Arab Emirates are coordinated by the National Center of Meteorology (NCM), a government task force.

Is the UAE prepared for torrential rain?

Preventing heavy rain from turning into deadly floods requires robust defenses to deal with sudden, intense precipitation.

Dubai is obviously highly urbanized. There is little green space to absorb moisture, and drainage facilities have not been able to withstand such high levels of rainfall.

“There need to be strategies and adaptation measures to [adaptar-se] to this new reality [de chuvas mais frequentes e intensas]Francis explains.

“For example, the infrastructure of roads and facilities needs to be adapted, building reservoirs to store water from spring rains and use it later.”

In January, the UAE Roads and Transport Authority created a new unit to help manage flooding in Dubai.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy