Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Will the Middle East Become ‘Uninhabitable’?

Middle East map of Köppen climate classification (Credit: Derived from World Koppen Classification.svg.| Enhanced, modified, and vectorized by Ali Zifan.| Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.| en.wikipedia) Click to Enlarge.
This is not about any alarming header—it is the dramatic conclusion of several scientific studies about the on-going climate change impact on the Middle East region, particularly in the Gulf area.  The examples are stark.

“Within this century, parts of the Persian Gulf region could be hit with unprecedented events of deadly heat as a result of climate change, according to a study of high-resolution climate models,” a recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) research warned.

The research–titled Persian Gulf could experience deadly heat, reveals details of a business-as-usual scenario for greenhouse gas emissions, but also shows that curbing emissions could forestall these “deadly temperature extremes.”

The study, which was published in detail ahead of the Paris climate summit in the journal Nature Climate Change, was conducted by Elfatih Eltahir, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at MIT, and Jeremy Pal PhD ’01 at Loyola Marymount University.

The authors conclude that conditions in the Persian Gulf region, including its shallow water and intense sun, make it “a specific regional hotspot where climate change, in absence of significant mitigation, is likely to severely impact human habitability in the future.”

Running high-resolution versions of standard climate models, Eltahir and Pal found that many major cities in the region could exceed a tipping point for human survival, even in shaded and well-ventilated spaces.  Eltahir says this threshold “has, as far as we know … never been reported for any location on Earth.”
The research, which was supported by the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science, reveals that the tipping point involves a measurement called the “wet-bulb temperature” that combines temperature and humidity, reflecting conditions the human body could maintain without artificial cooling, the say.

That threshold for survival for more than six unprotected hours is 35 degrees Celsius, or about 95 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the recently published research.

The severe danger to human health and life occurs when such temperatures are sustained for several hours, Eltahir says — which the models show would occur several times in a 30-year period toward the end of the century under the business-as-usual scenario used as a benchmark by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Read more at Will the Middle East Become ‘Uninhabitable’?

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