Man vs Nature

In the eternal conflict between man and nature, humanity has always used its wit to overcome the challenges of the natural world (or at least, tried to). We build monumental buildings and accomplish globe-spanning feats of engineering, asserting our dominance over nature, taking advantage of what it has to offer, and reshaping the Earth in the process.

But nobody said anything about building a mountain.

To address the need for better water supply, and in what is assumed to be the biggest act of compensation in recent history, the United Arab Emirates is studying the possibility of building its own artificial mountain. It will serve to facilitate cloud formation. And after the clouds form, it can be cloud seeded to create rain.

Consulting with US-based University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), the UAE is at the earliest stage of this plan, the “detailed modelling study” phase. In February of last year, UCAR received a $400,000 fund to conduct a study on the possible effects of building a mountain to alter the country's weather.

Weather Manipulation

Mountains have a huge effect on precipitation. A mountain forces moist air to rise, cooling it. The air condenses, becomes liquid, and turns to rain. In short, the presence of mountains forces air to rise, creating clouds that can then be seeded.

Cloud seeding is something UAE has a lot of experience in, having ran 186 different cloud seeding missions in 2015, which cost the country some $558,000.

Seeding efforts have been largely a success, creating record rainfall in the country. But it may have worked too well. Rainfall in March, partially attributed to cloud seeding, dumped over 11 inches falling in less than 24 hours, which resulted in flooding and canceled flights.

And this will not only affect the climate in the UAE. The project may affect global and regional climates. Some experts note that such a project would block (or at least alter) the global circulation of air, which will have a decisive effect on wind, precipitation, and temperature patterns. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) 2011 report warns about such an impact.

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