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The United Arab Emirates wants to build a full-size artificial mountain to encourage rainfall

The United Arab Emirates is used to building landmasses were there were none before, but creating a mountain from scratch is a whole new level. Nonetheless, the UAE is considering precisely that kind of construction. With hopes that it will encourage raincloud development in a country mostly covered in desert, the UAE is looking to build a full-sized artificial mountain. Desert flatlands make it difficult for air to get the upward climb required to collect into rain clouds, but creating a mountain could help bring a certain amount of rain to the otherwise arid region.

At this stage, increased rainfall might be more suitable in, say, drought-ravaged California than a country naturally situated in the middle of the desert, but that’s beside the point. The UAE has commissioned a proposal from the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in collaboration with the National Center of Meteorology and Seismology (NCAR), both United States-based scientific collectives. Researchers are currently looking to determine if this type of mountain construction would be possible in the UAE at all, let alone what the dimensions of the mountain would have to be in order to encourage a significant change in meteorological patterns.

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The mountain just needs to increase cloud formation, not necessarily the formation of rainclouds specifically, says Roelof Bruintjes, scientist and lead researcher on the NCAR team. Once clouds begin to form, a meteorological process called cloud seeding increases the amount of rainfall that those clouds can release. But it looks like construction of the mountain itself is still only in the wishful thinking phase.

Before any construction can begin on this artificial mountain in the UAE, the scientists and researchers at the NCAR have been tasked with pricing out the possibility of the project. If the government of the UAE decides that the projected price is feasible (with or without help from the deep pockets of local private investors in cities like Dubai), only then will a team of engineers tackle the project to see if building a mountain in the middle of the desert is physically possible.