Thursday 21, January 2016

Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE and Minister of Presidential Affairs, the winners of the inaugural cycle of the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science were announced and honored at a gala dinner held at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi during the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2016.

Research groups from Japan, UAE and Germany emerged as winners of the US$5 million grant awarded by the inaugural edition of UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science. His Excellency Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State and the UAE Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change, awarded the winners the grand prize on behalf of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Also attending are several high-level dignitaries and diplomats.

Reflecting on the impact of the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science, His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said: “The UAE has actively pursued a scientific and technological agenda, given the country’s sustained focus on innovation, high-level partnerships, and capacity-building. The UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science is perfectly aligned with the National Innovation Strategy that we launched early last year.”

He added: “This world-class program offers a new window of opportunity for the UAE to make a real difference in the global quest for new options and solutions to water security issues. The program will help position our nation as an international hub for advanced research and innovation in this critical area of resource optimization.”

The three winning research competed among 78 global scientific research proposals from teams representing leading international institutions and organizations. The UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science chose to honor projects that offered creative and path-breaking ideas on cloud forecasting and modification, modelling and the use of advanced cloud seeding agents.

The three prize-winning scientists leading the research teams that share this cycle’s grant of US$5 million include:
Masataka Murakami, Visiting Professor from the Institute for Space-Earth Environmental Research, Nagoya University (Japan), for his work on precipitation enhancement in arid and semi-arid regions. Professor Murakami’s project focuses on innovative algorithms and sensors dedicated to identifying the clouds most suitable for seeding. Researchers from the University of Tokyo and the Japan Meteorological Agency also contributed to this research project.
Linda Zou, Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering from the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (UAE), for her work on using nanotechnology to accelerate water condensation. Through her research, Prof. Zou explores the different ways of employing current knowledge of nanotechnology to develop novel cloud seeding materials and make rain droplet formation more efficient. Prof. Zou has received contribution to her work from the National University of Singapore and the University of Belgrade.
Volker Wulfmeyer, Managing Director, Professor, and Chair of Physics and Meteorology at the Institute of Physics and Meteorology in the University of Hohenheim (Germany), for his work on cloud seeding optimization. Prof. Wulfmeyer’s work aims to specifically study convergence zones and land cover modification to enhance precipitation.

Commenting the winners of the grant and their research teams, His Excellency Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State and the UAE Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change, said: “This award honors innovative proposals that have the potential to catalyse water security efforts across the globe. The scientists and their path-breaking work touch upon all vital aspects of rain enhancement research. The UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science Award is a celebration of our leadership’s strategic vision and embodies the nation’s commitment to building a diversified knowledge-based economy.”

His Excellency Dr Abdullah Al Mandoos, Director of the National Center of Meteorology & Seismology (NCMS), said: “For the coming three years, a specialized group of experts from NCMS will work closely with the winning teams to help them implement their plans and ensue that they achieve the aspired objectives of their research proposals.”

He added: “The UAE rain enhancement program is truly global in context and content. It paves the way for the UAE to emerge as a global hub for rain enhancement research. The program has received high uptake and demonstrated its attractiveness throughout this first cycle. We are confident 2016 will prove even more successful in addressing water security issues globally.”

Launched by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs of the UAE in early 2015 and managed by the UAE National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS), the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science is an ambitious initiative of global scope designed to stimulate rain enhancement research. The program seeks to accelerate water security through international cooperation in scientific research and development in the field of rain enhancement. The research areas that the program addresses include the fundamental understanding of rainfall enhancement, data modelling, analysis and evaluation, as well as experimental design, technologies and instrumentation.

The program kick-started renewed scientific enquiry in the field of rain enhancement on a global scale by articulating two core goals: to advance the science, technology and implementation of rain enhancement, and to increase rainfall for water security in the UAE and other arid and semi-arid regions. The program pursues four key objectives: enhancing the level of research and innovation in the field, advancing scientific understanding of rainfall augmentation, developing state-of-the-art techniques in rainfall enhancement practices and operations, and ultimately accelerating and further building capacity in the field both locally and globally.

Following its launch in January 2015, the program drew the participation of 325 scientists, affiliated to 151 organizations representing a diversified pool of governmental and non-governmental, private and public, domestic and foreign entities and individuals.

Notably, the program received 78 research teams that were given extensive feedback from anonymous reviewers of the selection committee on the strength and weakness of their pre-proposals.

Once submitted, an expert committee examined the final full proposals of international specialists, taking into account inputs from approximately 15 ad hoc reviewers covering a wide spectrum of expertise.