New climate study predicts humanitarian crisis in Middle East

A recent study by the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany and the Cyprus Institute predicts that migration from North Africa and the Middle East will significantly increase by the mid-21st century as the effects of global warming will be most devastating in desert regions relatively close to the equator.

The research, overseen by atmospheric scientists Jos Lelieveld and Panos Hadjinicolaou, assumes that global temperatures will be limited to an increase of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Farenheit) by 2100, as stated in the COP21 global climate agreement — signed by 196 countries at Paris in December 2015.

In the Middle East and North African region specifically, mid-century temperatures during the summer will more frequently exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit and heat waves are predicted to produce daytime highs around 115 degrees and nighttime lows of only 86.

In addition, heat waves overall will be 10 times more frequent and last 5 times longer by the 2040s than they are today. Already, the number of “extremely hot days” in the the region have doubled since the 1970s.

The projection of a two degree global temperature rise over the next 85 years relies on the reduction of world-wide carbon emissions by 2040.

With 500 million people currently living in North African and Middle Eastern countries, a mass exodus to Europe could be overwhelming for a continent which has already taken the brunt of refugees from its neighboring region.

“Climate change will significantly worsen the living conditions in the Middle East and in North Africa,” professor Hadjinicolaou said in a statement. “Prolonged heat waves and desert dust storms can render some regions uninhabitable, which will surely contribute to the pressure to migrate.”

Since 2000, desert dust particle pollution in the region has risen by 70 percent due to an increased amount of sand storms caused by longer periods of drought. Air quality in the desert regions of the Middle East and North Africa is only expected to worsen as the century progresses.

By the end of the 21st century (2081-2100) the study projects that summer daytime highs of 120 degrees or more in the region will not be unusual.

 

[phys.org] [CNBC] [Photo courtesy waterdefense.org]