UAE Wants to Build Man-Made Mountain to Control Weather

(Image:  Francisco Anzola via  flickr/ CC BY 2.0 )

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE) rain is a rare sight, so in an ambitious project they plan to build a mountain to help produce rain. The UAE’s artificial mountain needs to be large enough to change weather patterns so as to increase rainfall.

The potential project would be the most ambitious undertaking yet, in a country that has always thought big, with the world’s tallest structure — the 2,716-foot-tall Burj Khalifa skyscraper — or the Palm Jumeirah — an artificial island archipelago where 90 million square feet of rock, soil, and sand was dredged, and whose fronds can be seen from space.

The science behind it is not as outlandish as it first seems — it’s a phenomenon known as a rain shadow. It’s where moist air arriving from ocean breezes would be trapped by the artificial mountain, which would force it up into the atmosphere where it cools and then condenses into clouds, where — fingers crossed — it will fall as rain.

Experts from the U.S.-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:

Working with the National Center of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS), the UCAR received $400,000 in February last year to propose a “detailed modelling study evaluating the effects of building a mountain on the weather,” according to the news outlet.

The idea is to help the country with its cloud seeding endeavors. The UAE spent $588,000 on cloud-seeding in 2015, with 186 flights throughout the year. Cloud seeding is a weather modification process that involves dispersing potassium chloride, sodium chloride, and magnesium into clouds, in a process that can trigger precipitation.

Now, the UAE is hoping they can enhance this chemical process by forcing air up around the artificial mountain, which would create clouds that then can be seeded more easily and efficiently. NCAR lead researcher Roelof Bruintjes told the news outlet:

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