Meteorologist warns of 'weather wars' between countries

10:37 28.04.2024 •

Cars are stranded on a flooded street in Dubai following heavy rains on April 18, 2024

A meteorologist has warned of looming 'weather wars' between countries if 'cloud seeding' gets out of hand – after flooding in Dubai spawned concerns about artificially manipulating the rainfall, writes ‘The Dialy Mail’.

Johan Jaques, a senior meteorologist at environmental technology company KISTERS, warned there could be 'unintended consequences' to using the relatively young technology, potentially leading to 'diplomatic instability'.

'Any time we interfere with natural precipitation patterns, we set off a chain of events that we have little control over,' he said.

'Interference with the weather also raises all kinds of ethical questions, as changing the weather in one country could lead to perhaps unintended yet catastrophic impacts in another. After all, the weather does not recognise international borders.'

Extreme weather, and concerns about climate change and possible manipulation, have received attention in recent days with flooding in Dubai causing widespread disruption and damage to infrastructure.

The United Arab Emirates suffered horrendous floods which swamped the airport and many of the surrounding roads, forcing dozens of flights to be cancelled as travellers crammed into the concourse to shelter from the torrential downpour.

Videos shared on social media showed how cars were filled with water, forcing hundreds of motorists to abandon their vehicles and swim to safety.

The damage to the region was brought on by abrupt torrential rain, with more than 142mm falling on Dubai in just 24 hours - as much as the city would usually expect to see in a year.

The freak weather shift sparked concerns about cloud seeding, a process used since the 1940s by which planes equipped with specialised flares release salt into clouds to encourage rainfall.

While officials have denied the role of cloud seeding in this week's floods, the UAE has used cloud-seeding to prompt rainfall since the 1990s.

Mr Jaques said that intense precipitation brought on by cloud seeding could lead to 'excess flow, with potential flash floods as a result', as reported by Newsweek.

'The Dubai floods act as a stark warning of the unintended consequences we can unleash when we use such technology to alter the weather,' he said.

'Additionally, we have little control over the aftermath of cloud seeding. Where exactly is it going to be raining effectively?

'Using techniques such as cloud seeding to bring much-needed rainfall in one area can cause flash floods and droughts in another.'

'Anytime we interfere with natural precipitation patterns, we set off a chain of events that we have little control over,' he added.

Ahmed Habib, a meteorologist at the UAE's National Centre for Meteorology (NCM), told Bloomberg several cloud-seeding sorties were flown in the days before the unprecedented rainfall hit.

Giles Harrison, Professor of Atmospheric Physics at the University of Reading, said: 'The UAE does do operational cloud seeding, but there is huge difference between what this can achieve – targeting individual, developing clouds with seeding material released from an aircraft – and the Dubai rainfall, which was associated with a large weather system advancing across the region.'

Experts also note the likely impact of climate change in bringing on the intense weather patterns in the UAE.

Dubai. April 18, 2024


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