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Saudi Arabia implements cloud-seeding program aiming to increase rainfall by 20 percent

Kingdom Tower in center of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. © Brizardh | Dreamstime.com

The Saudi cabinet has approved a cloud-seeding program that aims to increase rainfall in the Kingdom by almost 20 percent to overcome the increased demand for water, due to growth of population and industrial needs.

The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture said the program was developed after a review of global practices and visits to other countries in the region to study their experiences of cloud seeding.

The Saudi government faces a growing pressure placed on water resources by the growth of its population as well as its industrial, energy, transportation, mining and agricultural sectors, where demand for water has reached near 24 billion cubic meters a year.

The Kingdom is one of the world’s most arid countries, with less than 100 millimetres of rainfall a year.

Almost 2.7 billion cubic meters of seawater are desalinated each year, but about 80 to 85 percent of the Kingdom’s demand is met by groundwater sources. With the increasing demands in water, the low rainfall in the Kingdom is becoming impossible to compensate for with only the groundwater resource.

Hence, cloud-seeding program targets specific types of clouds, using their physical properties to stimulate rainfall by providing cloud condensation nuclei.

The Kingdom began studying cloud seeding in 1976 in partnership with the World Meteorological Organisation.

An agreement was signed with the University of Wyoming, in the US, to conduct the first cloud-seeding experiments, which took place in Asir in 1990. The experiments have continued in the Kingdom’s central regions, the results proving that the clouds have seeding potential.

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