Dubai is coping with its 125-degree heat by using laser-beam-shooting drones to shock rainwater out of clouds

·2-min read
  • Dubai is making it rain with drones that shoot laser beams into clouds to prompt rainfall.

  • This works like a cattle prod for clouds, forcing small water droplets together to create big ones.

  • Dubai gets 4 inches of rainfall per year and saw temperatures shoot up to 125 degrees in June.

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The National Center of Meteorology in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has found a new way to make it rain. It's using laser-beam-shooting drones to generate rainfall artificially. 

Last week the country's weather service posted two videos offering proof of the heavy downpours in Dubai's streets.

Here's how it works: The drones shoot laser beams into the clouds, charging them with electricity. The charge prompts precipitation by forcing water droplets together to create bigger raindrops, essentially electrifying the air to create rain. 

This past March, the BBC reported that the UAE was looking to test the drone technology, which it developed in collaboration with the University of Reading in the UK.

Artificially generated rain is crucial because Dubai only gets an average of 4 inches of rainfall annually. This makes farming difficult and forces the country to import more than 80% of its food.

It also doesn't help with the country's sweltering temperatures. On June 6, for example, Dubai recorded a sweltering temperature high of 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dubai's rainmaking technology is not entirely dissimilar to cloud seeding, which has been used in the US since 1923 to combat prolonged periods of drought. Cloud seeding requires crushed-up silver iodide, a chemical used in photography, to help create water clusters in the air. 

Forbes reported that the UAE has invested in nine rain-enhancement projects over the past few years, which cost around $15 million in total. The bulk of those projects have involved traditional cloud-seeding techniques.

Critics of the drone technology worry that it could unintentionally cause massive flooding. And they also worry about such technology being privatized, Forbes reported. 

In the US, innovative solutions to the extreme effects of the climate crisis have been explored. Billionaire Bill Gates is backing the development of a sunlight-dimming technology that might help to achieve a global cooling effect by reflecting the sun's rays from the planet's atmosphere.

In the meantime, more than 80 wildfires are blazing across the US, devastating communities and destroying homes. On July 13, Death Valley in California recorded a temperature high of 128 degrees Fahrenheit, the Earth's hottest temperature record since 2017. 

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