The plan to use drones to make it rain

Desert living: The hottest temperature ever recorded in Dubai was 49C.

Is it a good idea to meddle with nature? One of the world’s hottest countries has plans to use drones to control the weather. But some worry the experiment could have surprising effects.

What’s happening

The United Arab Emirates is one of the driest countries on the planet. Every year, it gets only 10cm of rain. This means there is not much freshwater in the country.

But there could be a solution: they are going to zap clouds with electricity to make it rain.

Find out more

It often gets cloudy in the UAE. But the water in the clouds rarely turns into rain. The droplets are so small, they evaporate before reaching the ground.

The country has given money to researchers around the world to fix the problem. The winning team found that zapping the water in clouds with electricity makes the droplets bigger.

Keri Nicoll, a scientist on the team says: “What we are trying to do is make the droplets inside the clouds big enough so that when they fall out of the cloud, they survive down to the surface.”

A team in Dubai has been given special drones for zapping. Now, they are waiting for some clouds to test.

But some are worried and say we need to be careful.

Is it wrong to meddle with nature?

Some say…

No. Humans meddle with nature all the time. We breed dogs and cats to be a certain way. Even everyday tasks like cooking involve changing nature. Besides, this science could help millions of people. It could help farmers who need to grow food. And it could save lives in places where freshwater is difficult to find.

Others think…

Yes! We need to be careful. The drones might work at first, but they could go wrong. And nobody is sure how much difference they will make. They might make it rain a bit – or they could make it rain non-stop. That would be just as bad as having no rain! We are right to worry about what science can do to nature.

You Decide

  1. If you could only live in one kind of weather forever, what would it be?

Activities

  1. Write a story about a scientist who finds a way to make it snow but then cannot stop it.

Some People Say...

“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”

John Ruskin (1819 – 1900), English art critic

What do you think?

Word Watch

The United Arab Emirates
Also known as the UAE, it is a group of emirate states in the Middle East.
Freshwater
Water that does not have a lot of salt in it, unlike seawater.
Evaporate
When water turns from liquid to gas after boiling.
Money
The country spent more than £1m to find a way to fix the problem.
Dubai
Dubai is a city, and one of the emirates in the UAE known for luxury shopping.
Drones
A radio-controlled aircraft that can be controlled by someone on the ground.

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