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Hail, flash floods in UAE desert: Blame it on climate change

Sarwat Nasir/Dubai
Filed on July 14, 2019 | Last updated on July 14, 2019 at 06.57 am
Hail, flash floods in UAE desert: Blame it on climate change

In the UAE, a senior official from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment said there have been "observable changes" in the climate.

The impact of climate change is increasingly starting to show in the UAE as residents experience longer hot and humid seasons with changing patterns of rainfall, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment has said.

The effects of climate change are being felt across the region. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait saw record temperatures recently, with the mercury shooting up to 55C and 63C, respectively. Bahrain also recorded its highest temperature since 1902 at 45.3C.

In the UAE, a senior official from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment said there have been "observable changes" in the climate like flash floods, longer electrical storms and rains. Rising sea levels also pose a risk.

"People in the Middle East already feel the impacts of climate change in all aspects of their lives. Based on current projections, such impacts will continue to grow in intensity and frequency," Qais Bader Al Suwaidi, assistant expert of climate change at the ministry, told Khaleej Times. "Climate change in the GCC region has contributed to higher temperatures and humidity."

Talking specifically about the UAE, Al Suwaidi said climate change amplifies the issues of water scarcity and limited arable land, which adversely affect agriculture. This increases the country's dependence on food imports.

Flash floods in Ras Al Khaimah have become all too common, while the northern parts of the country experience hail frequently.

Health effects

Climate change is also "taking a toll" on human health in the region. "The risks identified include a projected annual temperature rise of five per cent. This can severely affect the elderly, children, low-income households and individuals with pre-existing health conditions. (It can also cause) respiratory diseases from air pollution and dust, and damage to health infrastructure," Al Suwaidi said.

Environmentalists are also concerned about the risk of rising sea levels, as the country has 1,300km of coastline. Approximately 85 per cent of the population and over 90 per cent of the infrastructure are located within several metres of the sea. "Any rise will pose a significant risk to the country's infrastructure," Al Suwaidi added.

The chairperson of the Emirates Environmental Group (EEG), Habiba Al Marashi, said unpredictable weather patterns and extreme weather events are among the "most detrimental effects" of climate change.

She said the Middle East is currently witnessing "unprecedented" recordings of extremely high temperatures during the summer months. "The high heat and temperature conditions are also driving desertification in the region, causing increased dust storms."

sarwat@khaleejtimes.com


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