UAE considers building a mountain to boost rainfall

The United Arab Emirates is considering an ambitious project to build a mountain that would help boost rainfall in the arid nation.

Arabian Business reports that scientists are studying the feasibility of creating a man-made mountain. Experts from the U.S.-based University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) and National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) are undertaking  a “detailed modelling study” of the project, according to NCAR scientist Roelof Bruintjes, lead researcher on the project.

“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,” Bruintjes told Arabian Business. “We will have a report of the first phase this summer as an initial step.”

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Arabian Business reports that, working with UAE’s National Center of Meteorology and Seismology, the UCAR received $400,000 funding last year to propose the man-made mountain study.

Bruintjes noted that mountains make air rise, creating clouds that can be ‘seeded.’ An established method of weather modification, cloud seeding involves injecting silver iodide droplets into clouds. Water coalesces around the droplets, causing precipitation.

China, for example, used cloud seeding in attempt to clear the skies and improve air quality for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. However, the effectiveness of cloud seeding continues to be debated in science community.

Related: Biggest cloud-seeding experiment yet only sparks more debate

Located at the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula, the oil-rich UAE has monthly average rainfall of 5.7 mm, according to World Bank data.

The NCMS website notes that UAE is one of the first countries in the Arabian Gulf to use cloud seeding. Research has found that the best cloud seeding conditions occur during the summer in the eastern and southwestern parts of the UAE, according to the NCMS.

Experts are looking at potential heights, widths and different UAE locations for the mountain, Bruintjes told Arabian Business. The scientist added that, if the project gets a government go-ahead, an engineering company will be approached to find out whether building the mountain is feasible.

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Bruintjes has not yet responded to a request for comment on this story from

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