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United Arab Emirates Mulls Building Artificial Mountain To Change Weather, Bring Rain

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The United Arab Emirates considers making another large and ambitious project that may dwarf other supersized structures it has already built. UAE wants to build an artificial mountain big enough to change weather patterns and increase rainfall.

The Arabian Business reported on Monday that the desert country literally considers constructing a mountain to help increase cloud cover that may theoretically lead to more rainfall.

The country has hired scientists from the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) to help it decide if the project is feasible. UCAR, in collaboration with the National Center of Meteorology & Seismology (NCMS), received $400,000 in February 2015 for a modelling study that would evaluate the effects of building a mountain on the weather.

"What we are looking at is basically evaluating the effects on weather through the type of mountain, how high it should be and how the slopes should be," lead researcher Roelof Bruintjes of NCAR explained.

Rain In UAE

It seldom rains in the UAE, and there is often little rainfall or none at all during summer when temperatures can go as high as 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

Such weather condition causes water security problem particularly in Dubai, which has become a major international destination, and in rural areas where farmers continue to depend on flood irrigation systems.

Cloud Seeding Problems

Concerns over shortage of water have prompted a campaign to bring more rain through artificially seeded clouds. In 2015, the UAE spent about $558,000 on 186 cloud seeding missions to induce higher levels of rainfall.

While cloud seeding seemed to work, problems arose. A record rainfall in March, which was partly due to cloud seeding, produced heavy rains and winds that caused flooding and even cancelled flights.

Hope In A Man-Made Mountain

Now, UAE looks into the feasibility of building a fake mountain to induce more rainfall. Mountains help cause rainfall because they alter winds, causing them to lift air that creates clouds that can be seeded more easily and efficiently.

The project, however, is deemed very ambitious even for UAE, known for its mega-projects, which include the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, and the palm-tree shaped artificial archipelago Palm Jumeirah.

Japan's Mount Fuji is estimated to weigh about 1 trillion tons. If UAE is to build a structure this enormous, the question would be where its builders would get enough materials for the construction. Using artificial materials, this may require up to one-quarter of the global concrete output in 2015.

Not A Guarantee

Even with the entailed costs and effort, some experts are skeptical that the fake mountain project would produce the desired result.

Raymond Pierrehumbert, a professor of physics from the University of Oxford, said he is doubtful the mountain project would work.

"You'd need to build a long ridge, not just a cone, otherwise the air would just go around," Pierrehumbert said.

"Even if you could do that, mountains cause local enhanced rain on the upslope side, but not much persistent cloud downwind, and if you need cloud seeding to get even the upslope rain, it's really unlikely to work as there is very little evidence that cloud seeding produces much rainfall."

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