Extreme Dubai rainfall linked to climate change, not cloud seeding: Scientists

Extreme rainfall in Dubai late on Monday and Tuesday triggered the worst flooding in over seven decades in one of the world’s most advanced but arid cities. The intensity of the rainfall sparked speculation that cloud seeding may have led to it, prompting climate scientists to underline the climate change link to it.

Dubai’s flooded Ras al Khor district on Friday. (Bloomberg)

Friederike Otto, a senior lecturer at the Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment, said the heaviest rainfall in Dubai for 75 years did not happen because of cloud seeding. “When we talk of heavy rainfall, we need to talk of climate change. Focusing on cloud seeding is misleading,” said Otto, one of the leading climate attribution scientists, in a video Imperial College London released on Thursday evening.

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Otto based her opinion on evidence of how climate change caused extreme rainfall events across the world. She said extreme rainfall is becoming much heavier globally because a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture. “Cloud seeding cannot create clouds from nothing that encourages water…already in the atmosphere to condense faster and drop water in certain places…first you do need moisture. Without it, there would be no clouds. Even if cloud seeding did encourage clouds around Dubai to drop water, the atmosphere would have likely been carrying more water to form clouds in the first place because of human-induced climate change.”

Otto underlined it is important to note that it would have rained in the region irrespective of cloud seeding just because of the big scale of the rainfall system. She warned: “If humans continue to burn oil, gas, and coal, the climate will continue to warm, rainfall will continue to get heavy and people will continue to lose their lives in floods.”

In a post on X, former earth sciences ministry secretary and climate scientist M Rajeevan called the Dubai rain a clear signal of climate change. He wrote that with global warming when it rains, it rains heavily. He added warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapour, which condenses and falls as heavy rains.

Rajeevan wrote a low-pressure weather system over the region caused heavy rains in Dubai. He added anticyclone over the Arabian Sea helped to transport plenty of moisture into the region. Rajeevan wrote models could accurately predict this event almost 72 hours in advance.

News / World News / Extreme Dubai rainfall linked to climate change, not cloud seeding: Scientists

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