Saudi Arabia to begin cloud seeding project in Asir, Baha

Saudi Arabia to begin cloud seeding project in Asir, Baha
Saudi Arabia to begin cloud seeding project in Asir, Baha

The Saudi National Center of Meteorology (NCM) announced that it is preparing to start a cloud seeding project; as part of the Kingdom's pursuit for new sources of water in the desert country. The center stated that the artificial rain program will be one of the promising programs; and will start from the southern regions of Asir and Al-Baha.

Yasser Jalal, director-general of the Research, Development and Innovation Department at NCM; said that cloud seeding is one of the techniques for weather modification by scattering environmentally friendly organic materials; such as dried snow or sodium chloride. Cloud seeding aims to change the amount or type of precipitation that falls from clouds by dispersing substances into the air that serve as cloud condensation or ice nuclei, which alter the microphysical processes within the cloud. "The materials used in the technology depend on the types of clouds; and the targeted areas are where warm or cold clouds are formed," he noted.

Low-cost technology

Jalal also stressed that by using the low-cost technology, the Kingdom will be able to increase the water reserves in the dams and the aquifer reserves as well to enhance its water security. The project seeks to enhance the Kingdom's water reserves in light of the scarcity of rainfall; which does not exceed 100 milliliters annually; and will contribute significantly to increasing the rainfall rate from 5 to 20 percent over the coming years.

In February 2020, the Council of Ministers approved a cloud seeding project; with the aim to increase the rainfall rate by up to 20 percent over the current rate. The Cabinet pointed out at the time that the Kingdom is one of the most water-stressed countries in the world, and does not contain permanent bodies of water such as rivers and lakes.

The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture also said in a statement at the time that cloud seeding is concerned with the targeted treatment of certain types of clouds and exploiting their physical properties to stimulate precipitation, by sowing some stimulating materials from these clouds, and emptying the largest amount of their water content. Cloud seeding involves flying light aircraft into the base of clouds and releasing flares containing potassium chloride, sodium chloride and magnesium. The mixture also encourages water vapor in the clouds to form droplets heavy enough to fall as rain.

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