You may or may not have heard that some days ago, the United Arab Emirates successfully caused an artificial rainfall by releasing drones to shock the cloud.
How possible is this?
The UAE’s National Center of Meteorology had announced that the rain was caused through cloud seeding operations, as reported by MSN.
In recent years, millions of dollars had been invested to experiment on innovative methods that would help to create an artificial rainfall, as part of efforts geared towards reducing the excess heat of the Arid climate of Dubai and it’s environs.
Dubai has witnessed upto a temperature of 50°c in recent times.
The UAE has a rapidly growing population and very little water to support it.
According to the NCMS, with an average of 550 litres of water consumed every day by each man, woman and child, the country has the fourth highest demand for fresh water in the world. As a result, the government is aggressively pursuing alternative solutions like cloud seeding, which is said to be up to 30 times cheaper than desalination.
What is Cloud seeding?
As explained by Kondala Murali Mohan, a scientist with Krishi Vigyan Kendra (Medak), Cloud seeding is a process for creating artificial rain.
In cloud seeding, chemicals like silver iodide, potassium iodide and dry ice are sent to the atmosphere through helicopters or planes. These particles thereafter attract the water vapour in the air, leading to the formation of cumulonimbus clouds and finally rain.
It generally takes half-an-hour to produce rainfall by this method. The time taken to generate rain depends on which portion of the cloud the chemicals are being injected into. Zapping the top layers gives the fastest results.
Although, there are justifiable reasons for conducting these kind of experiments, there are still some underlying sustainability issues. Apart from cost, some of these environmental concerns and dangers which Cloud seeding poses include:
- Acidification of the oceans
- Ozone layer depletion
- Increase in the levels of Atmospheric Carbon dioxide
- Possible danger to the health of plants, humans and animals.
In his words, the scientist continued
“The method can lead to acidification of the oceans, ozone layer depletion and an increase in the levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Silver is a heavy, toxic metal and it harms the health of plants, humans and animals. Cloud seeding is also a costly method. A foot of rainfall costs around USD 200.”
Magic, Miracle or Science?
In some traditional African societies such as Nigeria, we have some people known as the Rainmakers. These people are seen to possess the ability to conjure rainfall.
To many non- traditional believers, this is magic or even superstition. Some of these non-traditional believers believe that the ability to cause rainfall is vested in God alone. They believe in miracle, not magic.
For scientists, they neither support any of these schools of thought. Scientists only talk about what they can prove by science. To scientists, they don’t call it rainmaking, but artificial precipitation, artificial rainfall, or pluviculture. They invest in various research geared towards providing lasting solution to their current predicaments. To them, they don’t have to invoke the gods or the god of rain, by making incantations. With science, they can shock the clouds, and cause the cloud to shed tears.
The difference between these scientists and the traditionalists is the approach they have chosen to address the same issue ~ ©Godswill Ekwughaonu
The eventual outcome everyone wants to see is the rain.