The United Arab Emirates has a reputation for two things: being one of the richest countries in the world – and being one of the driest. Not content with their annual rainfall of a mere three inches of precipitation, the UAE government has decided to use their enormous wealth to bankroll various science projects to solve the problem.
The latest and perhaps most ambitious of these involves building a man-made mountain in the Middle Eastern country, with the hope of prompting the creation of more clouds and thus more rainfall. In theory, it would function via a principle known as “orographic precipitation”. As moist vapours rise up the side of the mountain, they would cool and cluster together into clouds. Wind would then propel these clouds to one side of the mountain, where they would empty their moisture onto the ground below (incidentally, the other side of the mountain would receive very little rainfall, leading to its moniker of the “rain shadow”).
Though the plan is still in its infancy, the UAE government have given $400 million (£277 million) to the National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to find out just how viable it is. If all goes to plan, you can forget moving mountains to make it rain – the UAE may well be building their own before too long.