The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a massive problem with a limited supply of rainwater. With an average rainfall of just 100 mm per year, the constitutional monarchy is ranked among the most water-stressed countries in the world.
For years now, the country’s government has been investing heavily in various cloud-seeding missions aimed to increase the annual rainfall. For example, the UAE has been relatively successfully triggering rain by firing salt particles into clouds from airplanes to make individual water particles heavier and more likely to punch holes in the clouds.
Now, UAE scientists have partnered with their colleagues from the University of Reading, England, to make it rain more in the parched country by literary giving clouds electric shocks.
“Equipped with a payload of electric charge-emitting instruments and custom sensors, these drones will fly at low altitudes and provide an electric charge to air molecules, which should stimulate precipitation,” explains Alya Al-Mazroui, the Director of the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science.
By deploying an electric current with negative and positive ions, the drones will basically attempt to recreate the natural phenomenon that causes dry hair to be attracted to a plastic comb. Since particles with opposite charges attract each other, the electricity unleashing drones should theoretically cause small droplets of water to merge into more subscription cloud formations and eventually lead to rain.
“Our project aims to evaluate the importance of charge in affecting the cloud droplet size distribution and rainfall generation through modifying the behavior of droplets and particles and studying the microphysical and electric properties of fog events,” says Professor Giles Harrison, a Professor of Atmospheric Physics in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading.
The effectiveness and safety of various cloud-seeding practices, including those explored by the UAE, are still debated by scientists. Concerns have been raised about their geopolitical implications, with wealthy, technologically advanced countries potentially “stealing” rainwater that would otherwise naturally end up in poorer countries.
Emirates Airline To Invest $2 Billion On Major Upgrades
Emirates plans a huge retrofit on its fleet and an upgrade to the inflight experience.
Emirates Airline has just announced plans to improve its inflight experience for passengers. The carrier has budgeted $2 billion to refit the interiors of over 120 of its aircraft, aiming for a more modern aesthetic for cabins, along with better food choices, modern inflight entertainment options, and a significant service overhaul.
Emirates is well known for its premium service, so this overhaul is an ambitious decision, as many other airlines are trying their hardest to increase revenues and reduce costs.
“Emirates is flying against the grain and investing to deliver ever better experiences to our customers. Through the pandemic we’ve continued to launch new services and initiatives to ensure our customers travel with the assurance and ease, including digital initiatives to improve customer experiences on the ground. Now we’re rolling out a series of intensive programmes to take Emirates’ signature inflight experiences to the next level,” says Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline.
The investment aims to ensure Emirates stays on top form, with many of the upgrades scheduled to materialize quickly. For the physical refit, aircraft are scheduled to enter the Emirates Engineering Center in November. So what can passengers expect once work is complete? The most significant change will be to aircraft interiors, where flyers of all classes will immediately spot new flooring, paneling, and reupholstered seats.
As well as a physical overhaul, the airline plans to upgrade entertainment systems, adding a “Cinema in the Sky” experience, complete with a bespoke app. In addition, better meal choices will reflect changing dietary preferences, including a new vegan menu and a nod to sustainability — though there will remain a strong luxury vibe to the proceedings, as the company has entered an exclusive agreement to offer Dom Perignon vintage champagne on board, as well as delicacies such as Persian caviar.
Though many of the improvements may seem trivial, Emirates is hoping that along with a huge cabin overhaul, their overall flight experience will continue to make travel a pleasurable experience, elevating their service above the competition.