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Jordan to attempt artificial rainmaking this spring

By Hana Namrouqa - Mar 13,2016 - Last updated at Mar 13,2016

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AMMAN — Jordan's first experiment in artificial rainmaking is scheduled to take place during spring in the Jordan Valley over the catchment area of King Talal Dam, a government official said on Sunday.

The first experiment will be implemented after Jordan and Thailand sign a memorandum of understanding on March 23 to benefit from the East Asian country's vast experience in rainmaking technology, Jordan Meteorological Department (JMD) Director General Mohammad Samawi said.

"Deciding on the date of the experiment relies on specific weather conditions. However, preparations for the experiment will start when a team of Thai experts from the Bureau of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation arrive to Jordan on Tuesday and the experiment can only be implemented after the memo is signed," Samawi told The Jordan Times.

The department has rented a plane from the Royal Jordanian Air Force, Samawi added, noting that machines for grounding the substances that will be sprayed by the plane over the clouds for rainmaking should arrive this week.

Artificial rainfall entails attempting to induce or increase precipitation.

According to the clouds' different physical properties, this can be done using airplanes or rockets to sow the clouds with catalysts such as dry ice, silver iodide and salt powder to increase precipitation, according to web sources.

In Jordan, the JMD is planning to use two groups of seeding agents depending on whether a cloud is cold or warm, including calcium chloride and compressed carbon dioxide as freezing agents and a compound of urea and ammonium nitrate for the absorption of moisture.

"Using artificial rainmaking techniques seeks to raise the amount of precipitation in Jordan, 90 per cent of which receives an average of 20-200 millimetres of rain per year… Increasing precipitation will raise storage at the dams, expand the country's green cover and boost natural pastures," Samawi underscored.

Jordan tried making artificial rain on its own between 1989 and 1995, but the experiment failed as the airplane and equipment used for this purpose stopped functioning, and the project faced several challenges.

The Thai technology was developed in 1969 by King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand who holds an international patent on the rainmaking method, which involves introducing certain chemicals in cloudy areas to “seed” the clouds with increased moisture that would eventually result in precipitation.

In 2009, Jordan received permission from Thailand to use the technique.

Already a victim to climate change, Jordan will witness a 15-60 per cent decrease in precipitation and a 1-4°C increase in temperatures, which will in turn have serious potential impacts on its natural ecosystems, river basins, watersheds and biodiversity, as the 2013-2020 Jordan Climate Change Policy has suggested.

Climate change over the past two decades has also caused a drastic drop in rainfall and prolonged dry spells in the Kingdom, according to a recent study issued by the Water Ministry.

Recent official figures indicate that 80 per cent of the Kingdom's long-term annual average rainfall of 8 billion cubic metres has been achieved since the start of the wet season. 

 

Until late February, Jordan had received 6.638 billion cubic metres of rainwater, leaving its 10 major dams at 59 per cent capacity out of a total capacity of 325 million cubic metres.

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