Four times more cloud-seeding operations were carried out in the UAE in the first quarter of 2016 than the same period last year, according to reports.
Local media cited National Center of Meteorology & Seismology meteorologist Sufian Farrah as saying 75 operations were carried out during the quarter, compared to a total of 186 the previous year.
The country spent $558,000 on seeding operations in 2015 at $3,000 a time, it was reported.
The news follows extreme weather conditions in March that closed airports and schools, damaged buildings and caused flooding in parts of the country.
Farrah said positive conditions for seeding were expected this summer, due to a forecasted increase in the number of cloud suitable for the practice.
NCMS carries out seeding operations using six Beechcraft King Air c90 aircraft in conjunction with weather radars. They fire potassium chloride, sodium chloride and magnesium into clouds during operations that last between two and three hours, according to reports.
Farrah said rain was not guaranteed from seeding but most operations last year produced more rain. He added that the process was much cheaper than desalination and could produce one cubic metre of water for $1 compared to $60 for the latter.
The UAE is currently investing in a $5m rain enhancement programme to provide grants for innovative research and technology proposals over a three-year period.
At its current rate, the country is using groundwater reserves more than 20 times faster than they can be recharged, clean energy company Masdar said last year.
Abu Dhabi’s aquifers are expected to run out in 50 years if the current rate of extraction continues.
An estimated 860 billion litres of water a year are used in the country for irrigation, with 37 per cent, 12 per cent and 50 per cent of overall water demand met by desalination, recycled water and groundwater respectively.