More sandstorms in summer and rain in winter, UAE climate change risk report predicts
A new report suggests rising temperatures in summer by 2050 will cost the economy up to Dh7.35 billion a year, reducing the productivity of those who work outside, increasing demand for air conditioning and putting health at risk.
ABU DHABI // Significantly hotter summers with increased sandstorms, higher humidity and more rain that could trigger flash-flooding are among the possible effects of climate change on the UAE.
A report published on Monday by Emirates Wildlife Society-WWF, UAE Climate Change Risks and Resilience, suggests that by 2050 there could be an increase of up to 2°C during summer months and 10 per cent in humidity.
Higher temperatures and greater humidity are expected to reduce the productivity of outdoor workers and increase the risk to residents’ health, causing losses to the economy of up to Dh7.35 billion annually.
It will also place greater strain on energy resources as demand for air conditioning rises.
More research is needed to conclude with certainty some of the climate-related risks but there are several that are almost certain to increase with climate change.
The World Research Institute’s Aqueduct report warned that drought and water scarcity were significant issues that will be exacerbated by global warming.
But paradoxically, the EWS-WWF report said that the UAE was also likely to experience more rain and the risk of flash-flooding.
It said annual rain could increase by 200 per cent.
There is evidence of risk of tropical cyclones in the future and waves as high as 7 metres along the coast of Dubai.
“Globally, by the end of the century, tropical cyclones could be less frequent but more intense [2 to 11 per cent increase], and produce substantially higher rainfall rates [10 to 15 per cent],” the report said.
Fujairah residents felt the devastating force of Cyclone Gonu in 2007 and could face repeat events.
Along with the risk of “high-impact” weather catastrophes, the incidence of severe sandstorms was likely to increase, the report said.
A climate outlook from the World Meteorological Organisation released in late 2015 suggested that above-average sea-surface temperatures in the Indian and Pacific oceans could result in unpredictable weather events across the Middle East, including dust storms.
Measurements from tide gauges suggest the level of the Arabian Gulf has been steadily rising concurrently with the increase in sea temperature.
“Rising sea levels and increased storm activity could lead to increased risk of flooding of coastal power generation facilities during storm surge events.
“This is an area where dedicated research is required to better understand the level of risk,” said the report.
Nine out of 10 power plants and desalination stations are in coastal areas, and could be vulnerable to flooding.
“There are considerable uncertainties about the rate of sea-level rise that will be experienced in the UAE over coming decades, and on the likelihood of cyclones,” the report said.
The academic journal Nature previously reported similar warnings and predicted climate change was likely to “severely impact human habitability in the future”.
UAE weather: latest forceast
■ Video: Hail at Dubai airport
■ Pictures: Heavy rain in the Emirates
■ Cloudseeding explained: The business of rainmaking
Updated: March 27, 2017 04:00 AM