This month, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has launched new initiatives and an international research prize to develop technologies that can help quench the Persian Gulf’s thirst.
The UAE capital Abu Dhabi receives an average annual rainfall of around 75 millimeters (2.95 inches). Despite this, the country consumes more water per capita than any other country, around 82 percent above the global average. This is only going to get worse, with an increasing urban population who have already developed a taste for ultra-luxury living, complete with water parks and perfectly green golf courses.
On top of this, climate change is leading the region towards an even hotter and drier future. A study in October last year reported that the Persian Gulf could be so hot and dry that it will be uninhabitable by 2071.
In an effort to meet its demand for water, the country has awarded $5 million (£3.5 million) to researchers from Germany, Japan and the UEA to develop cloud-draining technologies.
The majority of the UAE's landscape is sandy desert. Image credit: Tom Cummins/Shutterstock
The Guardian has reported that this money will help develop the “warm cloud seeding” technique currently used in the dry winter months. This method increases water condensation within the cloud. Planes are flown just below cloud level, where they release over a hundred flares loaded with particles of potassium chloride and sodium chloride. Updrafts carry these particles into the clouds and provide water vapor with something to condense on. Once heavy enough, these globules of condensed water vapor fall as rain.
The awarded scientists will try to develop technology to enhance the efficiency of this technique. The research will include cloud formation and algorithm-led cloud tracking, while scientists from universities in UAE will develop nanotechnology to increase water condensation.
This year has already seen new motions to help conserve water. Abu Dhabi has started charging natives for their water use for the first time and has increased the existing fees for expats. Numerous hotels and leisure facilities will also be expected to start reusing their water for flushing toilets.
[H/T: The Guardian]