Fighting Drought with Man-made Mountains

A.J. Rohn


As a major drought continues in Africa and the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates are working on a very novel idea to fight back. The country is beginning a project to create a “man made mountain” and seed the resulting clouds in order to produce rainfall.  Cloud seeding is not new for the gulf nation, which spent more than a half million dollars last year alone on the act. So far, the ideal construction site, specifics, and cost have not been determined for the man made mountain. Although the idea seems surreal, it is not the first such mountain to be discussed and it would not be surprising to see it come to fruition in the UAE, which is known to many for its man made archipelagos in the Persian Gulf off of Dubai, particularly the Palm Islands and World Islands.

Cloud seeding has yielded results in the United Arab Emirates, and can be assumed to be responsible for the flooding that has occurred there this year. Nonetheless, rain is quite uncommon in the country. These engineering endeavors have obvious effects on climate, but the construction of a mountain may have other unforeseen effects on the environment and ecology there.

The project is in its earliest stages, and was only announced in late April. If the plan moves forward, it will likely cost billions of dollars and not be completed for years. In fact, in a statement to Arabian Business, Roelof Bruintjes noted that “if it goes through, the second phase would be to go to an engineering company and decide whether it is possible or not”. A similar project that was theorized in the Netherlands was found to be feasible, however.

Die Berg Komt Er ("That Mountain Is Coming") is a proposed man-made mountain in the Netherlands.
Die Berg Komt Er (“That Mountain Is Coming”) is a proposed man-made mountain in the Netherlands.

Roelof Bruintjes is a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the United States based team tasked with modeling the mountain and conducting the initials stages of development. The construction of a climate­oriented mountain will revolutionize geoengineering, so updates to this story will follow as the project continues.

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More: UAE mulls ‘man-made mountain’ in bid to improve rainfall

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About the author
A.J. Rohn
A.J. is a recent graduate of the Geography and Environmental Studies programs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a passion for writing and interests in areas ranging from ecology to geosophy to geopolitics. He enjoys the geography of Wisconsin, be it the north woods or city life in Madison. He loves to read research papers in geography, books by scholars like Yi-Fu Tuan and Bill Cronon (both at UW-Madison), as well as classic fiction writers like Thomas Pynchon and Fyodor Dostoevsky. He is very much inspired by the work of all the people he encountered in Madison’s geography department, so expect a wide range of topics when reading his articles here.