Could Cloud Seeding Have Worsened Dubai’s Floods?

“Dubai’s flood is very insane. Cloud seeding brought 6 years of rain in one day”

Dubai Floods: The Truth About Cloud Seeding and Climate Change

Lightning in Dubai during rainfall event.

The devastating rains that recently flooded Dubai naturally raised questions about weather modification techniques like cloud seeding. However, social media has been ablaze with unfounded accusations blaming the floods on this technology. Let’s set the record straight and understand the real forces behind the extreme weather.

“Cloud Seeding IRL”

The Science: Cloud Seeding and the UAE Deluge

  • Fact: The UAE National Center of Meteorology has outright denied any cloud-seeding operations during the storm.
  • Expert opinion: Meteorologists state that weather models had accurately predicted this storm as far back as a week. Climate scientists emphasize that global warming is making this type of intense rainfall across the Arabian Peninsula more common.
  • Cloud seeding 101: This technique involves injecting silver iodide into moisture-rich clouds to induce precipitation. While useful in some cases, cloud seeding alone cannot create a weather event of this magnitude.
  • Research challenges: Scientifically proving that cloud seeding directly increased the rainfall requires advanced analysis, which is currently lacking.
Dubai Int’l Airport picked up 119 mm (4.69 inches) of rain over the past 24 hours. That’s about a year and a half worth of rainfall in just 24 hours (Average annual precipitation: 3.1 inches).

The Real Culprit: Climate Change

Leading climate scientists highlight the undeniable role of climate change. Warmer air holds more moisture, which means extreme precipitation events are increasing around the world. Dubai’s flooding sadly fits this pattern.

Key Points to Understand:

  • Blaming cloud seeding, in this case, is misinformed speculation.
  • Dubai’s rainfall was far beyond what cloud seeding can produce.
  • Climate change is scientifically linked to this kind of extreme weather.
  • The World Weather Attribution group is investigating to fully quantify climate change’s role in this specific event.
“Today’s extreme rain event in Dubai was clearly associated with a synoptic configuration that increased the odds of excessive rainfall. A slow-moving, positively tilted trough with a strong plume of moisture transport led to record high PWAT for April”

The Bottom Line: Think Science, not Conspiracy

Dubai precipitation on radar

In this era of rapid information (and sometimes misinformation), it’s vital to ground our understanding of weather events in proven science. Let’s remember, climate change is a formidable reality and requires our focus far more than unfounded theories about weather modification.

Even Bloomberg News published a story on X:

Scientists react to claims that Dubai flooding was caused by cloud seeding

Highly acclaimed Dr. Marshall Shepherd commented on Facebook about the recent flooding in Dubai.

Professor Suzanne Gray, Professor of Meteorology at the University of Reading:

“Satellite imagery suggests the flooding and rainstorms Dubai were caused by something called a mesoscale convective system. Mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) are what we get when lots of individual thunderstorms amalgamate to form a single large high-level cloud shield, typically hundreds of kilometres across, together with a large region of heavy rainfall. They are not rare events for the Middle East. A recent published study analysed 95 events that occurred over the southern Arabian Peninsula from 2000-2020 and found that they most often occur in March and April.”

Dr Edward Gryspeerdt, Imperial’s Grantham Institute for Climate Change:

“I would suggest it is relatively unlikely that this storm was due to cloud seeding. Cloud seeding aims to enhance rainfall (or snowfall) from susceptible clouds. Not all clouds are suitable and you cannot create a cloud or rain from nothing. You need a cloud that is close to forming rain anyway that you can then ‘tip over the edge’ into rain. You are only modifying an existing cloud (again, you cannot turn a small cumulus cloud into a towering thunderstorm just through cloud seeding). The effectiveness of cloud seeding is very difficult to determine. Once you seed a cloud, you don’t know whether it would have rained anyway. As the clouds you are looking to seed were close to raining already, it is difficult to be sure what the impact of the seeding was.

Climate models suggest that the maximum one-day precipitation is likely to increase over this region (although there is disagreement between them). All else being equal, you would expect warmer air to hold more moisture, which can lead to more intense thunderstorms. Recent studies of Arabia have suggested increase in extreme precipitation are expected as the world warms.”

Prof John Marsham, Met Office Joint Chair at the University of Leeds:

“There has been a lot of speculation regarding a role of cloud seeding in the recent Dubai floods…”

“We know that man-made climate increases extreme rainfall – this is well understood physics as warm air holds more water. A rainfall event such as the one that caused the Dubai floods, which covered a large area and where over Dubai a year’s worth of rain fell in one day, cannot happen without large-scale weather conditions driving enormous convergence of water vapour in the atmosphere and so extreme rainfall. Any possible effect of any cloud seeding in these circumstances would be tiny. This is consistent with the fact that weather models gave a warning of the risk of severe flooding days ahead.”

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