UAE rains: Extreme weather events to be 'more frequent' in future, says expert

Climate change projections for the MENA region indicate that these countries will experience more rainfall during spring

by

Nandini Sircar

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Cars are stranded on a flooded street in Dubai following heavy rains on April 18, 2024. Photo: AFP
Cars are stranded on a flooded street in Dubai following heavy rains on April 18, 2024. Photo: AFP

Published: Mon 20 May 2024, 2:40 PM

Last updated: Mon 20 May 2024, 10:33 PM

The UAE will experience more frequent extreme weather events in the future, according to Dr. Diana Francis, Senior Research Scientist and Head of the Environmental and Geophysical Sciences (ENGEOS) Lab at Khalifa University.

In an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times on Monday, Dr. Francis said that due to global warming, the country will have increased rainfall in the spring, as well as hotter and longer summers.


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These severe weather events are due to shifts in atmospheric pattern, according to the expert.


Explaining the occurrences in the recent past, she said, “Extreme events are actually expected to increase in frequency annually. This means that in the coming decades, these events will be happening more frequently than we used to see in the past."

She also noted that the rain that lashed the country on April 16 was caused by global warming.

"There has been indication in the recent reports of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that extreme weather events like heat waves or rainfall are going to be ‘more frequent’ and ‘more intense’ due to the increase in global temperature. This varies according to the region. It could be a heatwave in Asia for instance, or intense rainfall that we witnessed in the UAE,” she added.

Dr. Francis referred to her recently published paper titled 'Recent and projected changes in climate patterns in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region', and highlighted that experts like herself have been continuously looking into the changes in temperature, winds, as well as the seasons.

Rising equatorial heat fuel shifts

Climate change projections for the MENA region generally point towards a warmer and drier climate with increased extreme events by the end of the twenty-first century.

Dr. Diana Francis
Dr. Diana Francis

“Depending on the area we're focused on, the outcomes will be different. For instance, if we take the UAE and the surrounding countries meaning the Southern part of the Arabian Peninsula, these countries will experience more rainfall during Spring. The summer will be extended by a few days with increase in temperature especially during summer. These were the results of our study on the subject," the expert stressed.

She also emphasized that increased heat entering the Earth's system, particularly around the equator, is causing changes in the atmospheric circulation.

“For instance, the countries that are in the northern part of Arabian Peninsula like Saudi Arabia will experience more droughts because there is a shift in the climatic zone happening due to global warming, as more heat is coming into the equator.”

The researcher pointed out that as the equatorial zone expands the areas that lie just beyond it, such as the northern parts of the Arabian Peninsula, we will experience a shift from a more moderate climate to a subtropical one.

She added that this transition means we will experience a drier climate.

Adaptation strategies

The expert emphasized that countries must collectively work towards a sustainable solution that can endure over time, as the issue of global warming will persist for decades, “not just a few days”.

She added, “This is a global problem and doesn’t stop at any border. So, it's really important that each country, region, continent, and even internationally, cooperation must exist, and knowledge and data sharing should happen.”

Discussing adaptation strategies to enhance the country's future resilience against extreme weather events, she underlined that science and research play a critical role here.

“The actions following any event are really very quick. First, there’s always a study to assess the resilience of the infrastructure of the country towards such events. This has already started with different entities (in the UAE) and there will be conclusions and strategies put in place to make the country more resilient toward these kinds of events in the future.”

“I think science and research is a cornerstone for this because effective future strategies must be based on a solid foundation of scientific information and research,” added Francis.

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