Show Details

Solar Rainfall

September 10, 2018

Solar and wind farms would provide abundant electricity to the Sahara desert, and result in increased rainfall and vegetation as well.

Transcript

The Sahara desert has vast potential for solar and wind power production. (Merzouga, Morocco Sahara desert camel trek/Evaldas Liutkus/Flickr/CC0)

The Sahara desert has vast potential for solar and wind power production. (Merzouga, Morocco Sahara desert camel trek/Evaldas Liutkus/Flickr/CCO)

Could solar and wind energy transform the Sahara desert? Coming up on Science Update.

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Solar rainfall. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Despite a severe lack of water, the population of the Sahara desert region could reach 650 million by the year 2100. But renewable energy could help sustain the growing population, according to a study in the journal Science. That’s because large-scale solar and wind farms would increase surface friction and reduce reflected light in the massive desert, leading to more rainfall and vegetation. University of Maryland researcher Safa Motesharrei says the effect would be amplified over time.

SAFA MOTESHARREI (University of Maryland):

If we want these regions to come out of poverty they would require this clean energy. And now, because of these side benefits, they can have increase in precipitation that would help with agriculture and food production.

HIRSHON:

The energy could also be used to convert seawater to much-needed freshwater. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard