March 2, 2024

Mbarara scientist joins search for “artificial clouds”

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A former Mbarara University of Science and Technology Scientist is exploring possibilities of creating “artificial clouds” to induce rain in drought-hit areas. He hopes with that technology, he can help hard-hit farmers in specific areas receive rain for watering crops.

Khoi Khoi thinks the science of cloud condensation or ice nuclei can be part of the solution when farmers are affected by climate change.

He told media from his Mbarara Office that they have invented Cloud Ice nuclei under his Cloud Condensation project where they are trying to come up with a climate change mitigation intervention. Khoi Khoi is not new in innovation.

While working at Mbarara University of Science Technology, he invented an application known as Khoinology to be used in bridging the language barriers between health workers and patients.

The application reportedly had 95% accuracy in decoding five languages including Luganda, Runyankole, English, Swahili, and Chinese. This time around, he is spreading his innovation appetite in the area of weather and climate science.

“I will not stop innovating or coming up with new things because it is important for Africa and the whole of the world,” said Khoi Khoi.

He said they have embarked on weather modification using the cloud seeding technique to improve a cloud’s ability to produce rain or snow by introducing tiny ice nuclei into certain types of subfreezing clouds.

Khoi Kohi told URN that their research has matured beyond laboratory observation. He says during his first trial in December of last year, Mbarara City received light rain of up to 2–4 mm (0.07–0.15 in) of precipitation.

Cloud seeding technique is becoming a hotly debated matter in some countries where it has been tried. Skeptics have expressed fear that it could lead to more disasters including widespread floods.

Khoi Khoi said despite the successful use of cloud seeding, researchers are yet to determine the optimal amount of ice nuclei to be released into the atmosphere.

Furthermore, the seeded cloud can act like a magnet, attracting clouds from other regions, which may then receive inadequate rainfall.

This Khoi Khoi says is the challenge that the South Korean University he has chosen to collaborate with is working on.

He says a team of students and environmentalists from South Korea University will arrive in Uganda in April this year with expectations of the project’s first trial to be conducted in October 2024 and during the trial, they are optimistic about forming 2.9 million millimeters of rain. When Cloud Ice nuclei are released into the sky, they attract vapor and when they grow, that chemistry attracts rain.

“So if in the space there is no vapor, there is no nuclei we cannot have rain. So this is very important for Africa and the whole world at large. I wish the Ugandan government and all organizations should come out and support us in this cause,” said Khoi

He said that unlike in other countries where researchers are using silver iodide in cloud seeding, he and his team of researchers have opted to use a more friendly method using seas alt and dust.

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