Make it Rain: Innovative Technology Transforms Desert into Agricultural Land
Jordan’s climate varies from a Mediterranean one, in the uplands, to steppe and desert, towards the south. Rising temperatures, a constant decrease in average annual precipitation, and deforestation are some of the main problems the government has been fighting for decades. The installation of a network of emitter stations based on ionization technology on the ground has led to a 27 percent overall increase in rainfalls over a period of three years, the extension of the rainy season, and rainfall volumes of hundreds of millions of cubic meters.
In an interview with Supertrends, Dr. Helmut Fluhrer, CEO and founder of WeatherTec, revealed more about the innovative rain enhancement technology and its potential to transform desert and semi-arid areas into land suitable for agriculture.
Deserts and arid areas cover approximately 26-35 percent of the Earth’s surface, with 900 million people living in these regions. Living conditions are marked by water scarcity, decreased soil quality, and reduced biodiversity. Moreover, the situation is becoming even more challenging due to climate change and population expansion. With average annual temperatures constantly rising, water evaporates faster, leading to serious droughts. Inconsistent rainfalls and low volumes of precipitation have led to accelerated depletion of water supplies and difficulties in maintaining crops or other types of vegetation.
Making rain and generating fresh water
After seven years of fieldwork and research, the WeatherTec technology was finally on the market and achieved its first success in Jordan, one of the most arid countries in the world. According to several reports developed by the Jordan’s Meteorological Department and the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, this technology played an important role in mitigating climate change in Jordan by “breaking and reversing a 30-years trend of constant decline in precipitation,” with a strong impact on Jordan, but also on the neighboring areas.
Moreover, the rain-enhancing system has the highest potential in generating freshwater when compared to established methods such as cloud seeding (a chemical process that raises environmental concerns) and desalination (which is energy- and cost-intensive and produces large amounts of wastewater).
The “Black Swan Technology”
Mimicking sun’s ionization process, the WeatherTec rain enhancement technology uses solar-powered stations on the ground to emit trillions of ions into the atmosphere and electrically charge the aerosols. When these negatively charged aerosols reach the clouds, they intensify the condensation process. As a consequence, water particles grow in size, increasing the volume and duration of the rainfall as well as the covered area.
According to Dr. Fluhrer, the technology is environmentally friendly, doesn’t make use of chemicals, and creates no waste. Endorsed by many scientists in this area, including Professor Peter Wilderer, holder of the Stockholm Water Prize, this innovation earned the title of “The Black Swan Technology” during the Munich Security Conference.
Transforming desert into agricultural land
The impact of the rain enhancement technology on agriculture has proved to be substantial. Besides providing continuity in the irrigation of crops, it could also significantly help with reforestation. Covering thousands of square meters through traditional irrigation is not efficient, and even impossible in arid areas. Rain is a natural process that can cover much larger surfaces, increasing soil moisture, nurturing the seedlings, and helping them grow. Moreover, increased humidity plays an important role in preventing forest fires.
“In agriculture, rain enhancement technologies will definitely help with crop seeding and harvesting in the more arid areas. However, given the water scarcity all over the world, even less arid areas could benefit from building up small ponds of rainwater to secure it for the periods with no humidity in the air.” Dr. Helmut Fluhrer
After enhancing rain in the region for three years, the Jordanian Farmers Union reported a 30 percent increase in the production of rainfed plants (i.e., olive trees), the re-emergence of several species of medicinal plants, and an increase in biodiversity. Furthermore, this had a significant impact on the country’s self-sufficiency, leading to a decrease in imported livestock and an increase in the national supply. Besides its direct applications in agriculture, this technology can also be used to enhance snowfall in order to increase water reserves, snowpack, and cloud coverage. Adding cloud coverage reduces temperatures by a minimum of 5°C and leads to a decrease of fog, which is of paramount importance for the land, air, and maritime transportation sectors.
Interested to find out more about sustainable technologies with a direct impact on the agriculture sector? Check out our sustainability publications.