While visiting the futuristic exhibits at the KSA pavilion in COP28, I had the chance to share a conversation with Mr Abdulmonam Aldhaif, a passionate scientist spearheading a project that seemed ripped straight from science fiction: Cloud Seeding, with the Saudi Green Initiatives. 

Living in Dubai since 8 years, I heard about cloud-seeding many times, and had a vague idea of the concept : a rocket in the cloud making rain... and frankly, the very act of meddling with weather patterns scared me. 

I wanted to get more info and demystify the process and asked Mr Aldhaif all the questions I always wanted to ask, and you probably wonder the same, so let me share his answers with you.

What is cloud seeding?

Imagine tiny silver particles sprinkled into the sky, acting as ice nuclei that coax clouds to release their watery bounty. That's cloud seeding in a nutshell. 

But it's not just about pointing and hoping for rain. Mr Aldhaif explained, that a cloud type analyse, temperatures, and wind patterns is required to identify the perfect candidates for seeding. 

Source : Arab News

Can you control the rain intensity? 

Could we unwittingly unleash unintended consequences as floods, storms...? How do you ensure the safety of this actions? 

Yes, cloud seeding techniques can be adjusted, by the number of rockets you throw in the cloud, but also the type and number of clouds targeted. It will all depends of the need, if KSA needs rain to nourish the land, to replenish the water reserve...

Is it toxic? 

KSA uses natural, biodegradable materials that pose no risk to humans or the ecosystem. Mr Aldhaif compared it to adding a pinch of salt. These are naturally occurring substances that mimic ice crystals, triggering raindrop formation. 

Do you steal someone else rain? 

One of my concern was, that cloud seeding might "steal" rain from neighbouring countries. What if we tamper with regional rainfall patterns, stealing rain from one region to quench another's thirst? 

While rainfall patterns can be influenced downwind, KSA's vast size and geographical isolation minimise the risk of significantly impacting others, also the type of cloud used for cloud-seeding have a very limited ''life-time'', most of them around 45min, so if they are not used during this time laps, they will not be beneficial to anyone at all. 

Additionally, responsible practices and regional collaboration are implemented to ensure fair water distribution. It's about sharing the bounty, not hoarding it.

Cloud seeding beyond rain?

While visiting the other stand at the KSA pavilion, I realised that the cloud seeding is part of a much bigger plan that only replenish the water reserves. Sure, cloud seeding brings rain. But it's also nurturing the ambitious Saudi Green Initiatives plan to plant 10 billion trees by 2030. The idea is that these forests become sponges, soaking up the precious rain and feeding it back to the land, creating a self-sustaining ecosystem. And then cloud seeding, coupled with this green shield, acts as a powerful air purifier, reducing the amount of sandstorms, and hence the respiratory deceases, but also reducing the temperature and improving life quality for his resident. 

It's a domino effect of positive change, rewriting the equation for life quality in KSA.

A powerful tool : 

As research progresses and technology advances, the possibilities seems to be endless. Imagine a future where we fine-tune weather patterns with precision, ensuring water security and combating climate change... 

But let's not forget that cloud seeding, despite being used since 1940, is still considered as a ''new'' technology. We are learning as we go, navigating the unknown with cautious optimism. Saudi Green Initiative deserves credit for its boldness!

It seems to me essential, to prioritise responsible implementation, transparency and collaboration. Sharing knowledge, data, and concerns with neighbouring countries is crucial to avoid water wars and ecological disruption.

What I understood from my visit at the KSA pavilion is that cloud seeding will be used as a powerful tool, all while keeping in mind that the idea is to respect nature's power, and not to underestimate its complexities. 

Special thank you to Mr Aldhaif for sharing his knowledge and wisdom.

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