The UAE is considering the creation of a man-made mountain in order to increase the amount of rain it receives and ameliorate a looming water crisis.
The theory is that a mountain would force air to rise, creating clouds that could be "seeded" with tiny particles to encourage condensation and precipitation.
The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is currently carrying out detailed modelling studies. Funding of $400,000 has been made available for the scheme.
Roelof Bruintjes, an NCAR scientist and lead researcher, said: "What we are looking at is evaluating the effects on weather through the type of mountain, how high it should be and how steep the slopes should be.
"If the project is too expensive for the government, logically it won’t go through, but this gives them an idea of what kind of alternatives there are for the long-term.
"If it does go through, the second phase would be to go to an engineering company and decide whether it is possible or not."
At present, groundwater makes up 70% of the emirates’ water resources, with 33 desalination plants providing 24% and wastewater 6%. Most of the cities’ drinking water comes from desalination, with the groundwater being used for irrigation.
Researchers have warned that the Gulf state could run out of groundwater within 14 years. This could then lead to a collapse in the UAE’s agricultural sector and reduce the region’s food security.
Image: Abu Dhabi, UAE capital (RÃ¼diger Meier/Wikimedia Commons)