Dubai rocked by heaviest downpour in 75 years and fatal floods following cloud-seeding missions

News & Politics

The United Arab Emirates and neighboring states were rocked this week by the heaviest rains on record, which resulted in devastating floods, dozens of deaths, significant damage, and diverted flights.

A government meteorologist indicated early on that the UAE’s well-known geoengineering efforts were at least partly to blame. However, now that there is a body count, the government task force responsible for cloud-seeding missions in the region is attempting to deny responsibility.

Liberal media outlets such as the Guardian and Wired and so-called experts have dutifully accepted these denials, insinuating that climate change or other factors may instead be responsible.

When it rains, the NCM makes it pour

Cloud seeding is the controversial weather modification technique whereby aircraft, rockets, cannons, or ground generators release various chemicals and tiny particles, such as potassium chloride, into clouds in an effort to artificially increase precipitation.

Professor Ari Laaksonen of the Finnish Meteorological Institute
indicated that there are two principal cloud-seeding techniques. Hygrocopic cloud seeding serves to speed up droplet coalescence in liquid clouds, “leading to production of large droplets that start to precipitate.” The other technique, called glaciogenic cloud seeding, serves to “trigger ice production in supercooled clouds, leading to precipitation.”

Cloud seeding not only works but has
reportedly helped increase Utah’s water supply by an estimated 12% in 2018.

The UAE has been conducting cloud-seeding missions
for decades.

According to the Khaleej Times of Dubai, the UAE has ramped up its efforts under the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement, managed by the Gulf state’s National Center of Meteorology. This particular scheme was kicked off by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs of the UAE.

Alya Almazroui, director of the initiative, told the Khaleej Times in September, “By experimenting with various seeding approaches, we anticipate that these campaigns could lead to a more effective cloud-seeding approach and, consequently, increased rainfall in the targeted areas.”

On average, the NCM
reportedly conducts more than 1,000 hours of cloud-seeding missions every year, using aircraft equipped with hygroscopic flares full of nucleating agents.

It appears as though the NCM may have succeeded in its efforts at the expense of numerous lives.

Disaster and denial

ABC News Australia
reported that a year’s worth of rain descended on the UAE Tuesday, paralyzing Dubai and effectively closing the Dubai International Airport — the world’s busiest hub for international air travel.

Extra to prompting hundreds of flights to divert course, rains fed destructive floods across the Emirates and Bahrain, killing
at least 20 in Oman and one person in the UAE. Underground parking lots were flooded and metro operations were shuttered. Power was also knocked off in certain areas.

Dubai’s media office
acknowledged Tuesday that the downpour the UAE experienced this week was the heaviest it has experienced in 75 years.

Dr. Ahmed Habib, a meteorological specialist with the Gulf state’s National Center of Meteorology,
told Bloomberg that the NCM dispatched seeding planes from Al Ain airport on Monday and Tuesday to “take advantage of convective cloud formations.”

Bloomberg indicated that NCM flew several cloud-seeding flights prior to the downpour. The Associated Press also
indicated at least one aircraft associated with the cloud-seeding initiative flew around the country on Monday.

The NCM claimed on Wednesday it had instead seeded the sky on Sunday and Monday. State media did not acknowledge earlier flights.

Omar AlYazeedi, deputy director of the NCM, later
told CNBC that the agency “did not conduct any seeding operations during this event.”

Habib also
later changed his tune, suggesting that the six cloud-seeding flights he had previously told the press about had indeed flown missions but had not seeded any clouds.

Various so-called experts have apparently taken the NCM at its word and seized on the opportunity to instead blame climate change.

Daniel Swain, a “climate scientist” at the University of California, Los Angeles,
tweeted, “Did cloud seeding play a role? (Spoiler: likely no!) But how about #ClimateChange? (Another spoiler: likely yes!).”

“When we talk about heavy rainfall, we need to talk about climate change. Focusing on cloud seeding is misleading,” Friederike Otto, a supposed global warming specialist at the Imperial College of London,
told the Associated Press. “Rainfall is becoming much heavier around the world as the climate warms because a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture.”

“Rainfall from thunderstorms, like the ones seen in UAE in recent days, sees a particular strong increase with warming. This is because convection, which is the strong updraft in thunderstorms, strengthens in a warmer world,” Dim Coumou of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
told Reuters.

Maarten Ambau, an atmospheric physics professor at the University of Reading,
told the Guardian that “cloud seeding, certainly in the Emirates, is used for clouds that don’t normally produce rain. … You would not normally develop a very severe storm out of that.”

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