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Why is Unprecedented Rainfall Lashing the UAE? 



Why is Unprecedented Rainfall Lashing the UAE?

In a remarkable turn of events, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been hit by its heaviest rainfall in 75 years, shattering records dating back to 1949. Famously known for its scorching desert climate which could even go up to 50 degrees Celsius in the summer, the nation grappled with unexpected downpours that have inundated homes, disrupted infrastructure, and left residents facing unprecedented challenges. 

Reports from the ground paint a vivid picture of the chaos unleashed by the deluge. In cities like Sharjah and Dubai, buildings, villas, and entire communities found themselves submerged under water, with power outages adding to the turmoil. The sudden attack of rain, a rarity in these arid lands, caught many off guards, raising concerns for safety and prompting urgent emergency responses. 

Dubai International Airport, accustomed to minimal rainfall, recorded a staggering 142 millimeters (5.59 inches) within a mere 24 hours, far surpassing its average annual precipitation of 94.7 millimeters (3.73 inches). Such extreme weather forced authorities to take decisive action, with schools closed and remote working mandated for government employees to ensure their well-being amidst the adverse conditions. 

Experimenting Cloud Seeding in UAE  

While climate change has been cited as a contributing factor from wildfires and heatwaves to such anomalous weather events, speculation has also arisen regarding the role of cloud seeding, a form of weather modification aimed at enhancing precipitation in the deserted land. The UAE has been at the forefront of experimenting with this technique since 1982, bolstering its efforts through collaborative research with worldwide partners.  

Cloud seeding involves releasing substances into the atmosphere to enhance cloud saturation, resulting in heightened precipitation. Initially, suitable clouds are identified through weather analysis utilizing aircraft or ground-based generators. Subsequently, seeding agents, including salts like silver iodide, potassium iodide, sodium chloride, or dry ice (solid carbon dioxide), are dispersed into the designated clouds. These seeding particles stimulate the formation of larger water droplets, thereby amplifying rainfall. Various techniques, such as dispersing salt or directing infrared energy into the clouds, can be employed to promote rainfall. 

Managed by the Emirates’ National Centre of Meteorology (NCM), the UAE’s Rain Enhancement Program (UAEREP) leads the charge in cloud seeding initiatives. Utilizing cutting-edge technology, including a specially developed seeding agent composed of fine salt coated with titanium oxide, the program seeks to harness nature’s forces for the benefit of its inhabitants. 

Planning of Drainage system in UAE 

In addition to pioneering cloud seeding, the UAE has recognized the need to fortify its infrastructure against the growing threat of heavy rainfall. Reports of rainwater inundating homes during the rainy season have become increasingly common during November and March, which led them to take proactive measures to upgrade drainage networks across the country. 

In a significant move towards sustainability, Dubai approved a groundbreaking $21.8 billion sewerage system plan in June 2023, signaling its commitment to combatting climate challenges while fostering a circular economy. Endorsed by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, this ambitious project aims to not only enhance operational efficiency but also extend the system’s lifespan to ensure long-term resilience. 

As the UAE continues to navigate the complexities of its climate, these initiatives underscore a steadfast commitment to innovation and sustainability in the face of adversity by aiming to reduce carbon emission. With collaboration and forward-thinking strategies, the nation stands poised to weather any storm that comes its way, ensuring the well-being of its citizens for generations to come.