UAE Rain Enhancement Programme Launches 'Airborne Radiosonde Campaign'

UAE Rain Enhancement Programme launches 'Airborne Radiosonde Campaign'

ABU DHABI, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News / WAM - 17th Mar, 2019) A UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science awardee has launched an Airborne Radiosonde Campaign that involves balloon measurements of fog in the UAE during March and April this year.

Led by Professor Giles Harrison, Professor of Atmospheric Physics at the Department of Meteorology of the University of Reading and an awardee of the Programme’s Second Cycle, the campaign is gathering data from local fog and cloud using specially instrumented radiosondes to observe the electrical, turbulent and optical properties of water particles.

The campaign involves the launch of ten weather balloons with a custom-built sensor package that will enable a detailed study of the characteristics of fog occurring in parts of the UAE over the next two months.

The project is being supported by experts at the National Centre of Meteorology, NCM. Equipment used to launch standard weather balloons twice a day as part of NCM’s normal weather monitoring operations will be deployed to inflate and launch the balloons. Calibration equipment and operating software of the ground station computer employed by NCM is being modified to accommodate and decode the sensor data from the balloons’ custom sensor package.

Dr. Abdulla Al Mandous, NCM Director, said, "Under the leadership of H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science is inspired by the conviction that our common water security challenges can only be addressed through knowledge-sharing and cooperation with international partners. We are very encouraged by the progress of Professor Harrison’s project, and we are providing intensive support for his innovative research as part of our core mission to drive new solutions to help global populations at risk of water stress.

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The balloons will be released during mornings when fog conditions occur for an anticipated flight time of approximately 2 hours. Both the RS92 radiosonde and the 'PANDORA' sensor package are powered by 9-volt batteries and are connected electronically via a ribbon cable. The 'PANDORA' sensor sends data to the recipient ground station at the launch site by embedding it in the standard UHF signal from the RS92 radiosonde through a ribbon cable.

The data gathering campaign is expected to improve understanding of the electrical, optical and thermodynamic properties of fog and clouds in the UAE, inform numerical models of charged droplet growth being developed at the University of Reading, improve the process of assessing how clouds and fog could be seeded by introducing electrical charges, and help the development of charge-emitting drones for use in a further campaign experiment in Winter 2019-2020.

Professor Harrison’s project for the Programme is investigating the electrical properties of clouds through a combination of theoretical and experimental work, firstly to model the growth of charged drops to raindrops and, secondly, to measure and modify the charges present in clouds using balloons and aircraft, including the innovative use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, UAVs.

Alya Al Mazroui, Director of the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science, said, "We are delighted at the progress achieved by Professor Harrison, and look forward to helping realise the full potential of his innovative work through our technical resources and resident expertise. Using electrical charges to enhance rainfall could help boost precipitation levels without deploying artificial seeding substances. The excellent progress already made by Professor Harrison and his team testifies to the Programme’s effectiveness in supporting and enabling advanced research in the field."

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