Muscat: A Cloud Seeding Project initiated by Oman’s authorities to help address drought in water-stressed areas has been found to boost rainfall in areas targeted by the project.
Cloud seeding is one of several initiatives deployed by the government in support of Oman’s goal to ensure sustainable fresh water availability and supply by 2030 — a target enshrined in Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SGD6) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by all UN member states, including the Sultanate, in 2015.
The 2030 Agenda provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for all peoples. Seeking to address drought-related problems and other challenges, the Omani government implemented a Cloud Seeding Project over the past five years based on the use of novel ionization technology.
As part of the initiative, as many as 12 cloud seeding stations equipped with ion emitters were installed on the summits of mountains in the Western and Eastern Hajar, as well as in Dhofar Governorate. In addition, a total of 221 rain gauges were installed in various areas located within the impact zone of the project.
Explaining the science behind the project, the Supreme Council for Planning (which is monitoring the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals on behalf of the Omani government) said: “The ion emission technology is based on the use of the ionization property to increase rainfall through the process of coalescence of negatively charged ions, released by ion emitters and carried by rising air currents to the location of formation of middle altitude altocumulus with airborne dust and moisture particles.”
For want of road connectivity in the project area, the project team had to depend on choppers to gain access to remote locations for the installation of the ionizing equipment and the rain gauges, the SCP report said, alluding to the logistical challenges of implementing the project.
“The project’s final results over the past five years were evaluated by Australia’s Wollongong University, based on rainfall data in impact areas, as well as morning and evening weather balloon data supplied by the Public Authority for Civil Aviation and the project’s weather stations.
According to the evaluation, the average rainfall increase rate was estimated at 18.8 per cent with a degree of accuracy exceeding 99.99 per cent,” it stated. Oman has made major strides in meeting the burgeoning potable water requirements of its growing population over the past four-odd decades. As of 2016, safe drinking water services covered 98.7 per cent of the population.
Desalination water accounts for 86 per cent of total potable water demand, with the balance 14 per cent coming from groundwater sources. Desalination water output increased from 196 million cubic metres in 2011 to 311 million cubic metres at the end of last year.