A new method of causing rain in places where water is scarce using cloud-sowing drones that sow electrically charged clouds is going to be tested in the deserted United Arab Emirates .
This is one of the first times that scientists have used drones in an attempt to stimulate rain from clouds. They already carry out cloud seeding in the United Arab Emirates (using salt particles, released by manned aircraft).
An electrical charge is released into a cloud, giving cloud droplets the jolt they need to clump together and fall as rain . Clouds naturally carry positive and negative charges. By upsetting the balance of these charges, it is hoped that cloud droplets can be persuaded to grow and merge, eventually producing rain.
Research on this technology is published in the Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, it is being led by the University of Reading. According to Keri Nicoll , who coordinated the research at the University of Bath and is now a visiting scientist in Bath, based at the University of Reading:
We have conducted tests in the UK and have shown that we can release cargo from drones and detect it on the ground. The next step is to repeat these tests in the United Arab Emirates, where the ambient electrical environment is very different from that in the United Kingdom, due to high levels of dust and aerosol particles.
Cloud droplet loading alone is not likely to replace established cloud seeding techniques, but could work in conjunction with existing techniques to maximize the efficiency of cloud seeding .