Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate-exodus expected in the Middle East and North Africa

02.05.2016

Part of the Middle East and North Africa may become uninhabitable due to climate change

The number of climate refugees could increase dramatically in future. Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Cyprus Institute in Nicosia have calculated that the Middle East and North Africa could become so hot that human habitability is compromised.


In the Middle East and North Africa, the average temperature in winter will rise by around 2.5 degrees Celsius (left) by the middle of the century, and in summer by around 5 degrees Celsius (right)

MPI for Chemistry

The goal of limiting global warming to less than two degrees Celsius, agreed at the recent UN climate summit in Paris, will not be sufficient to prevent this scenario. The temperature during summer in the already very hot Middle East and North Africa will increase more than two times faster compared to the average global warming.

This means that during hot days temperatures south of the Mediterranean will reach around 46 degrees Celsius (approximately 114 degrees Fahrenheit) by mid-century. Such extremely hot days will occur five times more often than was the case at the turn of the millennium. In combination with increasing air pollution by windblown desert dust, the environmental conditions could become intolerable and may force people to migrate.

More than 500 million people live in the Middle East and North Africa - a region which is very hot in summer and where climate change is already evident. The number of extremely hot days has doubled since 1970. “In future, the climate in large parts of the Middle East and North Africa could change in such a manner that the very existence of its inhabitants is in jeopardy,” says Jos Lelieveld, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and Professor at the Cyprus Institute.

Lelieveld and his colleagues have investigated how temperatures will develop in the Middle East and North Africa over the course of the 21st century. The result is deeply alarming: Even if Earth’s temperature were to increase on average only by two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times, the temperature in summer in these regions will increase more than twofold.

By mid-century, during the warmest periods, temperatures will not fall below 30 degrees at night, and during daytime they could rise to 46 degrees Celsius (approximately 114 degrees Fahrenheit). By the end of the century, midday temperatures on hot days could even climb to 50 degrees Celsius (approximately 122 degrees Fahrenheit). Another finding: Heat waves could occur ten times more often than they do now.

By mid-century, 80 instead of 16 extremely hot days

In addition, the duration of heat waves in North Africa and the Middle East will prolong dramatically. Between 1986 and 2005, it was very hot for an average period of about 16 days, by mid-century it will be unusually hot for 80 days per year. At the end of the century, up to 118 days could be unusually hot, even if greenhouse gas emissions decline again after 2040.

“If mankind continues to release carbon dioxide as it does now, people living in the Middle East and North Africa will have to expect about 200 unusually hot days, according to the model projections,” says Panos Hadjinicolaou, Associate Professor at the Cyprus Institute and climate change expert.

Atmospheric researcher Jos Lelieveld is convinced that climate change will have a major impact on the environment and the health of people in these regions. “Climate change will significantly worsen the living conditions in the Middle East and in North Africa. Prolonged heat waves and desert dust storms can render some regions uninhabitable, which will surely contribute to the pressure to migrate,” says Jos Lelieveld.

The research team recently also published findings on the increase of fine particulate air pollution in the Middle East. It was found that desert dust in the atmosphere over Saudi Arabia, Iraq and in Syria has increased by up to 70 percent since the beginning of this century. This is mainly attributable to an increase of sand storms as a result of prolonged droughts. It is expected that climate change will contribute to further increases, which will worsen environmental conditions in the area.

In the now published study, Lelieveld and his colleagues first compared climate data from 1986 to 2005 with predictions from 26 climate models over the same time period. It was shown that the measurement data and model predictions corresponded extremely well, which is why the scientists used these models to project climate conditions for the period from 2046 to 2065 and the period from 2081 to 2100.

Largest temperature increase in already hot summers

The researchers based their calculations on two future scenarios: The first scenario, called RCP4.5, assumes that the global emissions of greenhouse gases will start decreasing by 2040 and that the Earth will be subjected to warming by 4.5 Watt per square meter by the end of the century. The RCP4.5 scenario roughly corresponds to the target set at the most recent UN climate summit, which means that global warming should be limited to less than two degrees Celsius.

The second scenario (RCP8.5) is based on the assumption that greenhouse gases will continue to increase without further limitations. It is therefore called the “business-as-usual scenario”. According to this scenario, the mean surface temperature of the Earth will increase by more than four degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times.

In both scenarios, the strongest rise in temperature in the Middle East and North Africa is expected during summer, when it is already very hot, and not during winter, which is more common in other parts of the globe. This is primarily attributed to a desert warming amplification in regions such as the Sahara. Deserts do not buffer heat well, which means that the hot and dry surface cannot cool by the evaporation of ground water. Since the surface energy balance is controlled by heat radiation, the greenhouse effect by gases such as carbon dioxide and water vapor will increase disproportionately.

Regardless of which climate change scenario will become reality: both Lelieveld and Hadjinicolaou agree that climate change can result in a significant deterioration of living conditions for people living in North Africa and the Middle East, and consequently, sooner or later, many people may have to leave the region.

Original publications:
J. Lelieveld, Y. Proestos, P. Hadjinicolaou, M. Tanarhte, E. Tyrlis, G. Zittis: Strongly increasing heat extremes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the 21st century. Climatic Change, doi:10.1007/s10584-016-1665-6, 2016, http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-016-1665-6.

K. Klingmüller, A. Pozzer, S. Metzger, G. Stenchikov, and J. Lelieveld: Aerosol optical depth trend over the Middle East; Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 16, 5063-5073, 2016, http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/16/5063/2016/.

Contact:
Prof. Dr. Jos Lelieveld
Cyprus Institute and
Max Planck Institute for Chemistry
Mainz, Germany
Telephone: +49 (0) 6131-3053000
E-mail: jos.lelieveld@mpic.de

Prof. Dr. Panos Hadjinicolaou
Cyprus Institute
Nicosia, Cyprus
Telephone: +357 22 208627
E-mail: p.hadjinicolaou@cyi.ac.cy

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.mpic.de/en/news/press-information/news/dem-orient-droht-ein-klima-exo...

Dr. Susanne Benner | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

Further reports about: Max-Planck-Institut desert desert dust global warming greenhouse heat temperatures

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Global study of world's beaches shows threat to protected areas
19.07.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht NSF-supported researchers to present new results on hurricanes and other extreme events
19.07.2018 | National Science Foundation

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>