Fo­cus on wa­ter scarcity needed more than ever

7 Days in Dubai - - NEWS - @Sar­watNasir sar­wat@7days.ae

By Sar­wat Nasir Re­solv­ing global wa­ter scarcity has be­come “es­sen­tial to na­tional se­cu­rity”, the head of the UAE’s rain en­hance­ment pro­gramme has said.

Alya Al Mazroui, pro­gramme man­ager of The UAE Re­search Pro­gramme for Rain En­hance­ment Sci­ence, said new tech­nolo­gies need to be found to help counter fu­ture short­ages.

UAE pro­ject of­fi­cials are among the environment ex­perts and del­e­gates at­tend­ing COP22 in Morocco, which is fo­cus­ing on the chal­lenges of cli­mate change and degra­da­tion of the environment.

The UAE of­fers $5 mil­lion per year to sci­en­tists, re­search groups and com­pa­nies who can turn rain en­hance­ment the­o­ries into a re­al­ity.

Speak­ing to 7DAYS, Al Mazroui said: “This ini­tia­tive comes at a time of ris­ing global pop­u­la­tions and di­min­ish­ing wa­ter re­sources and the need for so­lu­tions to en­sure global wa­ter se­cu­rity has never been greater.

“As wa­ter se­cu­rity is es­sen­tial to na­tional se­cu­rity, coun­tries need to strengthen their own wa­ter se­cu­rity op­tions by pro­mot­ing re­search, de­vel­op­ment and in­vest­ment in in­no­va­tive tech­nolo­gies.

“In­no­va­tive rain en­hance­ment tech­nol­ogy could pro­vide sus­tain­able ap­proaches to in­crease fresh wa­ter avail­abil­ity.”

The re­cent Why Pop­u­la­tion Mat­ters to Wa­ter Re­sources re­port by Pop­u­la­tion Ac­tion In­ter­na­tional es­ti­mated by 2035 that 3.6 bil­lion peo­ple will be liv­ing in ar­eas with wa­ter scarcity, largely due to pop­u­la­tion growth.

The UAE’s Fed­eral Elec­tric­ity and Wa­ter Au­thor­ity (FEWA), also states each UAE res­i­dent uses 550 litres of wa­ter, com­pared to the in­ter­na­tional av­er­age of 170-300 litres per day.

As part of the rain pro­ject, pi­lots have been fir­ing salt flares (potas­sium and sodium chlo­ride) into the clouds over UAE and Oman to in­crease the chance of pre­cip­i­ta­tion. But the tech­nique does not work ev­ery time and of­ten the clouds, which typ­i­cally form over moun­tain­ous Oman, have dis­si­pated by the time they reach the UAE. One of the first awardees, Pro­fes­sor Volker Wulfmeyer, from the In­sti­tute of Physics and Me­te­o­rol­ogy at the Uni­ver­sity of Ho­hen­heim in Stuttgart, is try­ing to change that. Wulfmeyer’s re­search fo­cuses on im­proved de­tec­tion and forecasting of con­ver­gence of clouds through im­proved re­mote sens­ing. If the sys­tem works then fore­cast­ers would be able to de­tect clouds at a very early stage, help­ing pi­lots to reach them in time. Wulfmeyer has car­ried out an aerial and land site sur­vey over the north-eastern ter­ri­to­ries to iden­tify suit­able sites to con­duct his up­com­ing re­search. Wulfmeyer said: “We found an ex­cel­lent site in the Ha­j­jar Moun­tains for the set up and op­er­a­tion of a new com­bi­na­tion of ob­serv­ing sys­tems to study wind fields and cloud prop­er­ties.” The lat­est bids for fund­ing are cur­rently be­ing ex­am­ined and will be re­vealed in Jan­uary.

IN AC­TION: One of the six NCMS cloud-seed­ing planes in the air and (inset) a pi­lot with the salt flares

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