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UAE To Build Artificial Mountain To Improve Rainfall (engadget.com) 216

An anonymous reader writes: The United Arab Emirates is in the early stages of developing an artificial mountain that would force air upwards and create clouds that could produce additional rainfall. While the Middle East and Africa continues to get hotter, researchers are further motivated and more desperate for solutions to maximize rainfall. "Building a mountain is not a simple thing," said NCAR scientist and lead researcher Roelof Bruintjes. "We are still busy finalizing assimilation, so we are doing a spread of all kinds of heights, widths and locations [as we simultaneously] look at the local climatology." The specific location has yet to be decided on as the team is still testing out different sites across the UAE. "If [the project] is too expensive for [the government], logically the project won't go through, but this gives them an idea of what kind of alternatives there are for the long-term future." Bruintjes said. "If it goes through, the second phase would be to go to an engineering company and decide whether it is possible or not."
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UAE To Build Artificial Mountain To Improve Rainfall

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  • Seems to me it's easier to build a nice tall wall to block the wind and collect the moisture than it is a mountain. The wind and water won't know. Maybe even put some drainage ditches at the base of the wall to catch the rain. Hell, make the wall some 5-10 meters thick and fill it with apartments, retail, and office space.
    • by ChunderDownunder ( 709234 ) on Monday May 02, 2016 @10:29PM (#52032831)

      President Trump's brilliant plan to address climate change.

      • by plopez ( 54068 )

        They could get Mexico to pay for it.

        • The funny thing about all of this is that Mexico wants the wall too and is willing to chip in for it.

          A wall on the Mexican-American border will slow and possibly stop the drug trade which is devastating the northern parts of Mexico.

    • My guess: for a mountain, all you need to do is pile up dirt. It's like a reverse mining operation: we have proven skill in moving enough dirt to build a mountain.

      But for a wall, you need to do a heavy bit of engineering and a bunch of maintenance, too.
      • by Pseudonym ( 62607 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2016 @12:58AM (#52033377)

        My guess: for a mountain, all you need to do is pile up dirt.

        Even simpler, you could build a molehill and then invite the Slashdot comment section over to do the rest.


        • Dude, don't knock it. He's clearly a successful businessman and isn't a "bought" candidate.

          Sure his ideas sound quirky but no one else is brave enough to try.

          I'm sure that once he increase poverty rates, worsens inequality, creates an international diplomatic incident and possibly run the economy to self-serving interests to the detriment of all and eventually bring the country to brink of ruin a new candidate will emerge. People will then remember how he wasn't the guy they voted for and that he said a
        • My guess: for a mountain, all you need to do is pile up dirt.

          Even simpler, you could build a molehill and then invite the Slashdot comment section over to do the rest.

          I only regret that I cannot mod this higher.

      • Here are some man-made mountains under construction:

        http://www.southernfriedscienc... [southernfriedscience.com]

      • There is more to it than that (though you are right with what you said). A wall is a relatively flat thing vertically. So all the weight is pushing straight down. The higher and taller it gets, the more weight it is - the stronger the base needs to be. There's an upper limit to what height and length a wall of a given material can be. Buildings are easier - they are essentially hollow structures, so there's a bit less weight, and even there we are basically at the limits of what our current building materia

    • One word: skiing.

    • by SumDog ( 466607 )

      In that...is that a Dune reference?

    • The garbage mountain on E66 outside Dubai is well on its way already.
    • by mea2214 ( 935585 )
      Tear down the wall!
  • by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Monday May 02, 2016 @10:28PM (#52032829)

    The engineering challenges for this are insane. Just trying to move that much materiel would break the bank. I wouldn't be surprised if the cost of desal + irrigating the whole country comes in at a lower price....

    • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Monday May 02, 2016 @11:17PM (#52033017)

      Hey, we're talking about the UAE here . . . unfeasible expensive building projects don't need to make sense . . . in the "Talking Heads" sense of the phrase.

      The answer to the material question is really quite simple, actually. Just use trash. Make the mountain an above ground landfill. The world is awash in trash, that nobody wants . . . hell, the rest of the world will pay the UAE to stash their trash in an environmentally friendly climate changing mountain in the UAE.

      Old cars, useless electronic gadgets . . . bring it on, and pile it up! The baking hot sun will fry it enough so that it won't stink.

      A win--win for the whole world.

      • by xvan ( 2935999 )
        What's environmentally friendly about piling tons of toxic waste?
        • garbage =/= toxic waste
          • ..Until such a time as the compounds and materials that garbage is made from starts to decompose down to their basic elements (like heavy metals, dioxins and other nasties) due to erosive, UV and other breakdown processes, at which time it becomes, you guessed it, toxic waste. Or are you still under the infantile presumption that all the things in the world are made from rainbows and unicorn shit as opposed to chemicals and capitalism?
            • Right, cuz waste management isn't a thing.
              • Right, cuz waste management isn't a thing.

                It is a thing, but a lot more gets landfilled than you would like to see. They don't break open every bag on purpose, and they are not scrupulous about even getting things out of the pile. At my local landfill I have seen electronics get pushed into the compactor with everything else. Most of them just get thrown into the trash when they break, and if they're small enough they go right into a bag and nobody ever sees them.

                • Hey, I'm sure like a lot of things that the execution is different than the intent.

                  But GP was too lazy or too stupid to make that point...
    • by quenda ( 644621 )

      Agreed. It would be so much easier and cheaper to buy land elsewhere, and move the Emirates.

        "If the mountain can't come to the Mohammedans then the Mohammedans must go to the mountain."

    • Just trying to move that much materiel would break the bank.

      We already move that much material with mining operations.

      I wouldn't be surprised if the cost of desal + irrigating the whole country comes in at a lower price....

      Yeah, you're probably right.

    • mines all over the world regularly move that much material. They also have other huge operations that they can leverage experience from like building man made islands of Dubai. It would definitely be expensive but I can't see it as a huge engineering or bank breaking challenge.
      • How high and how wide would it have to be? Superpit in Australia is 3.7km long, 1.5km wide but only 470m deep and it is one of the largest open pit mines in the world. Would that amount of material be enough to have any measurable impact on the climate? And then there comes the challenge that any material that you use in this mountain will be loose aggregate, so you would need to retain all of it or have a really shallow slope dramatically increasing the volume of material needed. This is a major differ

        • while our Australian mines are huge, they are no where near the biggest or deepest. The one near salt lake city is over a kilometer deep. There is an open cut mining operation in Germany which covers an area of around 50 Square Kilometers.
          • Bingham canyon is deeper, and Hull Rust is biggest overall, but even those open pit monstrosities aren't enough material to build a climate changing mountain.

            • In local area they are more than sufficient to affect the local weather patterns, especially if relatively close to the ocean, it all comes down to how much of an area they are trying to affect. Even Tall buildings by the cost can cause the generation of fog.
    • Well, think out of the box. Just locate an asteroid of the required girth, and drop in on place. You have time to get it to the right orbit. Use several hundred EmDrives powered by sun cells to do that. Then a bit of atmosphere braking, not too much, careful not to get it broken. For the final braking, I'd use a crude version of the project Orion system, explode a couple of nuclear bombs on the underside of the asteroid.

      Hey! Bonus idea! If the asteroid is partly ice (see Asimov's "The Martian Way" for refer

  • I suspect we'll see a lot of similar geo-hacks and assorted other climate hacks in the coming decades as weather patterns continue to change. Climate science in general will evolve far beyond what it is today, and may supplant tech as a primary driver of the world's economies. It's time to start steering our kids towards climatology and related fields.

    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday May 02, 2016 @11:42PM (#52033073)

      It's time to start steering our kids towards climatology and related fields.

      This hill will be built by civil engineers, not climatologists.

      • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2016 @12:51AM (#52033349)
        Thinking way back to my introduction to civil engineering subject in first year before the courses split (that's the way we did things in the 1980s) there was a practical session about airflow around large structures. We put blocks in a tank with flowing water and squirted dye in - fun, but it showed why it gets windy at the base of skyscrapers unless effort is made to break up the airflow.
        The two topics are not disconnected even at the very entry level. City microclimates from large flat areas etc are another issue that has been considered even at the introductory level for decades.
      • This hill will be built by civil engineers, not climatologists.

        The hill will be built by civil engineers while climatologists sit at their desks with their feet up.

    • Even if the Earth turns into Venus, how many jobs could there really be for climatologists? You don't need that many.

      What we need to do is train kids to spray sulfur aerosols into the upper stratosphere! We have enough bad software engineers already.
    • Nope, it ends in War (Score:5, Interesting)

      by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2016 @12:50AM (#52033339)

      UAE creates man made mountain to grab rainfall. Every other country "close" will blame them for any change in rainfall and at least some of that is going to be legitimate. Impact from this is going to be felt far and wide, so anywhere between India, Italy, and Russia are potentially impacted. It is not far fetched that a country that used to be able to feed itself suddenly has a starving populace because they no longer get any rain.

      Every country in the World threatens war over weather modification, and there are numerous countries that have long sought to master weather control for the purpose of war. UAE's intent may not be to harm neighbors but that's not always how things work out.

      If the UAE was building desalination plants to irrigate with, it would be a very different story.

      • by dave420 ( 699308 )

        If only there was some methodology that could be applied to understand the effects of things. Maybe the methodology could involve other people reviewing the findings and making suggestions based on demonstrable evidence... Naah. The mighty S. Petry, Senior Sage doesn't make mistakes.

    • Agreed. Of note to me is that people would rather literally move mountains than move themselves out of a region that commonly sees temps of 50C (and has been at war for quite some time to boot). Something to think about if your answer for rising sea levels is "we can just move". To me, building out massive wind/solar/smart grid/storage capacity seems even easier than moving a mountain. Oh well, guess we'll see.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Monday May 02, 2016 @10:51PM (#52032927)

    'If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain.'

  • by reemul ( 1554 ) on Monday May 02, 2016 @11:36PM (#52033059)

    Sounds more like the UAE is jealous of Qatar's single project death-toll record for the World Cup and is determined to take the crown. The ads are probably already going out in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines for the sorts of disposable slave labor the region favors for large civil projects.

  • How about shaping terrain to guide tornadoes on a specific path?
  • Remember when you proudly acquired your first bigscreen? You gave the old CRT set away to a thrift. A year or tw later, you replaced the bedroom set and the guest room set. What you found then is that charities no longer take working CRTs, and neither do landfills. Neither do recycling centers, even those special electronics days they have periodically. You can't throw a CRT away.

    The garages of America can supply the "bricks" for the UAE's mountain. This is a business opportunity waiting.

  • Nip the problem in the bud.

    If that isn't gosh golly gee wiz shiny tech for hyou then how about:
    1) set up solar panels and wind turbines
    2) use to power desalination plants
    3) take said water and split it into hydrogen and oxygen
    4) burn hydrogen fuel to power irrigation pumps to take the waste water from the combustion and extra water from desalinization and pumpit in land
    5) use said water for reforestation.

    • by Socguy ( 933973 )
      Why add the step of creating hydrogen? Just run your process during the day using electricity.
  • a proper title would be "UAE Investigating The Possibility Of Constructing An Artificial Mountain" because they will likely find out it's far more costly than they expected.

  • Moisture vaporators
  • by John.Banister ( 1291556 ) * on Tuesday May 03, 2016 @02:25AM (#52033549) Homepage
    When I thought of this at first, I thought that the idea with a mountain is to chill the air, and there may be easier ways. Then, I thought desalination is going to be cheaper to make water than refrigerating the air, are they afraid they'll run out of sea water? But, sea levels rise with global warming, and my first impression of UAE was that it's pretty flat, so I thought, maybe they also want some artificial high ground to which they can retreat. Before commenting on that, though, I asked Google, what is the highest point in UAE? It turns out that Jabal Al Jais (over on the Eastern point, by Oman) is 1910 meters tall, and the satellite view shows that it doesn't have a wet side. Hawaii is closer to the equator, and mountains that are less tall have a wet side. This leads me to strongly think that the air may not be the best available resource for getting potable water. I'd try desalination of the stuff in which the artificial islands are built.
    • When I thought of this at first, I thought that the idea with a mountain is to chill the air, and there may be easier ways. Then, I thought desalination is going to be cheaper to make water than refrigerating the air, are they afraid they'll run out of sea water? But, sea levels rise with global warming, and my first impression of UAE was that it's pretty flat, so I thought, maybe they also want some artificial high ground to which they can retreat. Before commenting on that, though, I asked Google, what is the highest point in UAE? It turns out that Jabal Al Jais (over on the Eastern point, by Oman) is 1910 meters tall, and the satellite view shows that it doesn't have a wet side. Hawaii is closer to the equator, and mountains that are less tall have a wet side. This leads me to strongly think that the air may not be the best available resource for getting potable water. I'd try desalination of the stuff in which the artificial islands are built.

      build the mountain out of salt blocks from the water desalination process.

  • Seriously, if they are going this route, just build a glass dome. It would be much cheaper and easier to control the environment.
  • Start building a decent sized pyramid and then, instead of stopping, carry on. Easy.
  • They may build a big hill and declare victory, though.

    In the process, a great deal of essentially slave labor will die.

    At the end, they will have a big dirty hill that accomplishes nothing.

  • by Theovon ( 109752 ) on Tuesday May 03, 2016 @09:55AM (#52034765)

    They want something that *functions* as a mountain. It doesn’t have to look like a regular mountain, and it doesn’t have to be solid all the way through. As someone else said, a wall might do the trick. And also, the structure could be hollow. Build a steel frame and cover it with inexpensive materials. As long as it has the desired effect, it doesn’t have to look like a mountain. And just imagine the uses that could be put to the interior as well. You could have an entire city in there in the shade. Presumably it would have to be mostly airtight, but if you made it out of translucent materials, then the amount of artificial light inside needn’t be extensive. Imagine a mountain made of plexiglass. Also, for something the size of a mountain, moisture would collect in the inner atmosphere, develop into clouds, and even rain sometimes. If the air inside is cooler than outside, they might want to limit air exchange (i.e. no active ventilation), requring that plants be grown inside to keep the oxygen levels up. Even pollution levels could be kept down if burning is kept to a minimum (no diesel or coal generators inside, but maybe short hydrocarbons like natural gas for cooking, if they even have a supply of it in there).

    I’m sure there are a million caveats I’ll never think of, but if they’re going to build something that big, they might as well make it more useful than just a wall and even possibly make it give a return on the investment through taxes. It would require maintenance.

    • A steel frame the size of a mountain would probably cost 1,000x more than a mountain of dirt and rocks.

      What you are talking about is building a Burj Khalifa times 100. No small feat.

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