The United Arab Emirates has created without doubt a lot of ambitious mega-projects on its soil such as the Palm Jumeirah, an artificial archipelago into the sea near the capital Dubai, ATMs that dispense gold bars !, a ski resort in a shopping mall, or the towering Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. However, the latest project could go far beyond previous building projects. The Middle Eastern country is considering developing a massive man-made mountain in order to increase rain.
Français: Certes, il y a un problème de sécheresse au Moyen Orient. Pour résoudre celui-là, les Émirats arabes unis envisagent de construire une « montagne artificielle » afin de stimuler les précipitations dans le pays, entièrement désertique. Pour ce faire, ils ont engagé des scientifiques du Centre américain de recherche en sciences de l’atmosphères afin de décider si le projet était viable, ou non. Le journal Arabian Business a rapporté que les EAU veulent construire une montagne en bonne et due forme afin de provoquer l’accumulation des nuages au-dessus du territoire, ce qui devrait, en théorie du moins, augmenter la fréquence des pluies. Un scientifique du NCAR a confirmé à Motherboard qu’il travaillait actuellement sur le projet, mais qu’il ne pourrait pas en dire davantage avant publication des résultats.
According to Arabian Business, experts from the US-based University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), which manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) are in the “detailed modelling study” phase, at a cost of $400,000 (£276,384).
NCAR scientist and lead researcher Roelof Bruintjes told to Arabian Business:
“What we are looking at is basically evaluating the effects on weather through the type of mountain, how high it should be and how the slopes should be,” said Bruintjes. “We will have a report of the first phase this summer as an initial step.”
Mountains are important to rainfall. As moist air reaches a mountain it is forced to rise, cooling it. The air may then condense and turn to liquid, which can then fall as rain. This generally means that rainfall will occur on the mountain’s area that faces the wind while the other side of the mountain will be drier.
The idea is that this natural process would be forced to occur thanks to the towering man-made structure.
The clouds generated by the mountain could be seeded – a weather modification process designed to maximise the amount of rain produced – to boost rainfall and control when wet weather occurs.
It is possible that if the mountain was tall enough, the precipitation process may occur naturally, so cooler temperatures would cause moist air to condense and droplets to fall as rain without the need for seeding.
Rain is a big issue in the UAE. Generally, it rains only a handful of days each year, and during the summer, when temperatures can reach 110 degrees Fahrenheit, there is often little or no rainfall at all. Most years the total annual rainfall doesn’t break five inches — in comparison, Washington gets almost 40 inches a year. Arabian Business recently reported that around $558,000 has been spent on 186 cloud seeding missions across the UAE last year, and the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science recently announced a $5 million research grant for teams studying the technology. So far, the campaign seems to have worked, with higher levels of rainfall than predicted.
According to researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany and the Cyprus Institute, temperatures in the Middle East and North Africa will soon reach levels too high for human survival.
“The temperature during summer in the already very hot Middle East and North Africa will increase more than two times faster compared to the average global warming,” the team said in a statement.
“This means that during hot days temperatures south of the Mediterranean will reach around 46 degrees Celsius [approximately 114 degrees Fahrenheit] by mid-century. Such extremely hot days will occur five times more often than was the case at the turn of the millennium.”
The high temperatures, mixed with air pollutants and dust, could force many families to migrate to find better, more suitable conditions, the researchers explain.
Sources: WashingtonPost, Arabian Business, DailyMail, The National AE, Science Alert
Photo credit @flickr :xikita