The Middle East has been witnessing unprecedented climatic episodes for the past few years. The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events have surged dramatically and it is expected that the consequences of climate change would become more pronounced for the region in the upcoming decade. In no other country in the world is the scale of climatic turbulence so massive as it is in the Middle East and the climate change is taking its toll on its people and ecosystems.
A transcontinental region including western Asia and Egypt forms the Middle East region. In the past few years, the region has been struggling with a drastic increase in temperature levels. Records are being broken with each passing year; in 2016, the Mitribah meteorological station in Kuwait touched a record temperature of 53.9-degree Celsius! The veracity of this claim has been challenged by many, though, it does not change the fact that the region is likely to become highly uninhabitable in years to come. As per a report published by NASA, of the past 900 years, the drought faced by the region in the last 10 years has been the worst. As the global average temperature continues to rise by 0.17-degree Celsius each year, the repercussions of climate change will only worsen for the planet.
The effect of climate change is more noticeable during the months of summer which has been impacting the aquatic life of the region too. Abu Dhabi lost more than 90 per cent of its corals to bleaching when extreme hot weather lashed the city in 2017, and 73 per cent of what remained got bleached in the following spring. When corals are exposed to stress such as the warmer temperature of the water they expel out the colourful algae from their polyps, which makes their appearance white or ‘bleached’. These bleaching events have become a usual phenomenon for the region with summer temperature trending upwards.
It is estimated that by 2050, the mean daily temperature could touch 47-degree Celsius and the nights would remain above 30 degree Celsius in some parts of the Middle East. The consequences would be dire for the Arabian Gulf region and it will likely become severely unlivable unless radical measures to mitigate the climate change impacts are adopted. The wet-bulb temperature — which measures temperature and humidity of a location — is expected to exceed 35 degree Celsius and that does not bode well for the Emirates. Further, the globally rising sea levels owing to melting glaciers and ice sheets have put about 24 port cities of the region under the threat of being engulfed by the increasing water level. As a result, the urban coastal areas would face more episodes of flooding and the saltwater intrusion in places such as in Nile delta would severely impact the crop yield. It is expected that with drier weather and less rainfall, the region will experience an increased number of sandstorms which will further deteriorate the air quality in the surrounding areas. Coupled with the already existing political tension in the geography, the fight against climate change would be a Herculean task for its population and if not handled prudently, it may even exacerbate the conflict.