His Excellency Dr Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi delivers keynote speech at opening session

Abu Dhabi-UAE: 25 January, 2021 – The virtual sessions of the fifth International Rain Enhancement Forum (IREF), which opened today under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, discussed a broad range of topics related to rain enhancement research.

Lining up prominent experts in rain enhancement science and technology, the two-day event is hosted by the National Center of Meteorology (NCM) through the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science (UAEREP).

The sessions drew the participation of several high-level officials, including His Excellency Dr Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, who delivered a keynote speech at the panel discussion titled ‘Outlook for Global Water Security in the Light of Climate Change’.

Speaking about the correlation between climate change and water stress, he said: “Climate change will not only aggravate the situation in currently water-stressed regions, but also generate water stress even in some of those regions that have sufficient water resources today. In addition to the depletion of groundwater, land degradation and desertification, and an increase in water consumption due to rising temperatures, climate change poses risks to water-related infrastructure.”

The Minister added: “To address water stress, we are following an integrated water management approach. We have adopted the UAE Water Security Strategy 2036 that aims to ensure continued and sustainable access to water. We are also implementing initiatives to reduce water losses and consumption. In addition to the introduction of green building and product standards, building retrofit initiatives, and water tariff reform, government authorities have been running awareness campaigns to promote behavioral change among consumers.”

The session examined changes to global climate in recent decades with a focus on the Arabian Gulf region, one of the most water-stressed parts of the world. The participants also discussed addressing water scarcity through renewable water resources, how climate change is contributing to the problem, as well as the growing imbalances between water supply and demand.

The panelists included Dr Rupa Kumar Kolli, Executive Director at the International CLIVAR Monsoon Project Office at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology at the Ministry of Earth Sciences of India, Prof Mansour Almazroui, Head of the Department of Meteorology at the Faculty of Meteorology, Environment and Arid Land Agriculture at King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia, Qais Al Suwaidi, Assistant Expert on Climate Change at the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, and Dr Said Al Sarmi, Meteorological Expert at the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The panel discussion was followed by two sessions. The first, titled ‘Transitioning from Research to Operations in Rain Enhancement: Case Studies and Roadmap’, was divided into two parts – ‘A. Systematic Approach to Evaluating New Cloud-Seeding Nanomaterial’ and ‘B. The Future of Rain Enhancement: Roadmap Development and Challenges’.

Sufian Farrah, Meteorologist and Cloud Seeding Expert at NCM, Prof István Geresdi from the University of Pécs in Hungary, and Dr Roelof Bruintjes, Scientist at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research and Co-Principal Investigator of UAEREP’s second-cycle awardee Dr Paul Lawson, participated in part A.

Part B featured Dr Deon Terblanche, Senior Weather and Climate Consultant at the World Bank, Dr Estelle De Coning, Acting Head of the World Weather Research Programme at the World Meteorological Organization, Prof Steven Siems, Professor at the School of Earth Atmosphere and Environment at Monash University in Australia, and Omar Al Yazeedi, Director of Research & Development and Training at NCM.

The session included highlights from the program’s field campaigns conducted in collaboration with several local and international organizations, and examined the process, challenges and technologies involved in transitioning from research to operations in rain enhancement. The panelists also explored the development of a comprehensive roadmap for future cloud-seeding operations, and discussed further steps and key stakeholders to realize its shared vision.

The final session of day one was titled ‘Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent System Applications in Meteorology and Rain Enhancement’. The participants included Talal Al Kaissi, Vice President of Strategic Projects and Space Program at G42, Dr Juha Tonttila, Scientist at the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Prof Eric Frew from University of Colorado Boulder in the US and UAEREP’s third-cycle awardee, and Dr Duncan Axisa, Director of Science Programs at Droplet Measurement Technologies and Co-Principal Investigator of Prof Frew.

The session featured presentations on high-performance computing and AI analytics capabilities to support rain enhancement, using unmanned aircraft for cloud seeding, algorithms for determining suitable cloud-seeding conditions, and meteorological research, forecasting and monitoring applications, followed by a panel discussion.

Hosted annually in Abu Dhabi, IREF serves as a global platform to bring together leading national and international experts, researchers, scientists and stakeholders to tackle pressing water and sustainability issues worldwide.