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People are blaming cloud seeding for the Dubai flooding. But what is cloud seeding?

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image of cars submurged in water due to heavy rainfall in dubai

On Tuesday, the United Arab Emirates got hit with the most rain it’s recorded in 75 years, causing flooding and temporarily halting flights at the heavily trafficked Dubai International Airport. The flooding resulted in the death of a 70-year-old man whose car was swept away, and there were at least 18 more fatalities in neighboring Oman, including schoolchildren.

By the end of Tuesday, some areas of the UAE had received as much as 10 inches of rain in 24 hours, the UAE’s National Center for Meteorology said in a statement. Dubai had been hit with 5.59 inches of rain in a 24-hour period. On average, Dubai receives 3.12 inches of rain per year, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

As videos of airplanes weaving through floodwaters like boats spread across social media, the conversation quickly turned to one topic: cloud seeding. Although the rainfall coincided with a larger storm system that hit other countries in the region, including Oman and Iran, some people were quick to blame the UAE’s use of this decades-old technique to artificially stimulate precipitation in the atmosphere.

The UAE has denied cloud seeding took place prior to the rain that started on Monday night. Cloud seeding has become a popular target in the wake of other rain events. In California, people were quick to point a finger at cloud seeding after storms hit the state in February, despite the fact that California’s cloud seeding pilot program hadn’t started yet. Fact-checkers at Reuters have also previously debunked similar claims that heavy rainfall in Australia in 2022 was linked to cloud seeding.

But what exactly is cloud seeding? The technique works by artificially creating the conditions under which rain occurs in nature, says Auroop Ganguly, a distinguished professor in Northeastern University’s College of Engineering.

Read more at Northeastern Global News.

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