UAE is planning on building artificial mountain! Does that sound outlandish? May be a bit outlandish for sure but don’t forget that United Arab Emirates has this long history of building some mega structures. A cool example will be Burj Khalifa. Now, why the hell is UAE planning on a mountain? In case you didn’t know, the country gets just 4.8 inches of rainfall in whole year. This makes the nation, a very dry place to live in. The climate is terribly hot and of course, water scarcity is one of the biggest problems that the nation faces today.
So, what are the possible way out for the country? The country, as of now, opts for cloud seeding – a geoengineering method that was developed back in 1946 to encourage more rainfall. What exactly happens in this method? Certain chemicals like potassium iodide or silver iodide or even dry ice is dispersed into clouds. These chemicals help to increase precipitation in clouds, which then fall back as rain!
So, what is wrong with cloud seeding and why does UAE want an artificial mountain?
Good question but let us take a look at the problems of cloud seeding:
- In 2015, cloud seeding helped UAE to get significant amount of rainfall. This happened in March. The problem was that within 24 hours, the nation received 11 inches of rainfall. The result was pretty bad. The country went into chaos because of widespread floods.
- Cloud seeding is really expensive. Last year, the country undertook 186 cloud seeding missions. These missions gobbled up $558,000 (as per National Center of Meteorology and Seismology, UAE). That may not sound too much given the country’s rich background but consider this expense year after year for decades and more. On top of that, there may be flooding risks!
So, clouding seeding does work but it comes with its own drawbacks. This is where the idea of an artificial mountain sounds pretty good for the time being. That’s because it is a known fact that mountains are responsible for lifting up moist air. When moist air rises, its temperature drops significantly. This dramatic drop in temperature leads to stormy could formation, which then results in rainfall (maybe we just oversimplified things but that’s the summary). So UAE, which currently has no natural mountains, can actually benefit from a gigantic artificial mountain over the long run.
This is why the country is currently taking some serious advice from NCAR or National Center for Atmospheric Research, USA. NCAR is currently creating a very detailed model of what type of mountain should be built and what kind of slopes it should have.
NCAR will present the entire model and the resulting weather impacts to UAE by end of this summer. The whole presentation will also include the total cost of the whole project. If the UAE government finds the total cost to be within acceptable range, it will go ahead with the project.
Just how much cost will be involved in building this artificial mountain?
We don’t know yet but as per Washington Post, a similar artificial mountain was proposed for Netherlands with an estimated cost of $230 billion. However, the mountain that was proposed was supposed to be hollow and was supposed to be 1.2 miles tall.
If the UAE government doesn’t find the predicted cost of the artificial mountain to be acceptable, it might go for other options like using underground pipes for moving water across the country. However, if the project gets a green signal, it will be one of a kind artificial structure that will almost permanently change the geography and climate of the nation.
What do you think? Will UAE approve the project?