Clouds could be given a helpful jolt of electric charge to increase much-needed rainfall in dry parts of the world, thanks to an award-winning research proposal by scientists at the University of Reading.
The new study will investigate how charge modifies the growth of tiny water droplets into larger drops that fall as rain. It will use a supercomputer to simulate the cloud processes in detail, with specially developed robotic aircraft to sample and charge the clouds.
The Reading team was one of three groups awarded funding in this year’s US $5-million-dollar United Arab Emirates (UAE) Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science, at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday 17 January. Reading will receive US $1.5m.
The story has been given wide coverage in the region’s media.
Giles Harrison, Professor of Atmospheric Physics at the University of Reading, said: “Our project is about changing the balance of charges on the tiniest cloud droplets, a neglected aspect of clouds which could revolutionise our ability to manipulate rainfall in areas that need it most.
“The UAE’s programme is ambitious and imaginative, and has already brought many international scientists together on this important topic.”
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The new research proposal was based on a study published in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society in May 2015.