Gulf states could become unbearably hot new study suggests

A new study reveals that temperatures over the next hundred years could rise to heights that would make many of the Gulf States and much of the Middle East uninhabitable.

Arid temperatures in the United Arab Emirates

Arid temperatures in the United Arab Emirates Image by Jerry Fer Damian/Lonely Planet / CC BY 2.0

Cities such as Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi would experience heatwaves never before felt on earth, and the states would become impossible to live in after 2070. Professors Jeremy Pal and Elfatih Eltahir, both at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote in the journal of Nature Climate Change that, “Our results expose a specific regional hot spot where climate change, in the absence of significant [carbon cuts], is likely to severely impact human habitability in the future".

Dubai marina's towers.

Dubai marina's towers. Image by ~Pyb / CC BY-SA 2.0

Much of the Middle East would experience what are currently considered heatwaves all the time. It would affect pilgrims on their religious Hajj in Saudi Arabia every year as well as their ability to export oil. Professors Pal and Eltahir though do point out  that a reduction in carbon emissions could prevent this from happening. Many of the Gulf States included in the study have opposed  international negotiations regarding climate change in the past.

The study focused on what is known as WBT or wet bulb temperature, the combination of  temperature and humidity. It found that above 35 ºC it is physically impossible for the human body to cool down by sweating. To be in this state for over six hours can prove fatal.

Doha skyline.

Doha skyline. Image by Larry Johnson / CC BY 2.0

The scientists told The Guardian that they hoped this might have an impact on future negotiations and legislation in this area that will be most affected. “We would hope that information like this would be helpful in making sure there is interest [in cutting carbon emissions] for the countries in the region. They have a vital interest in supporting measures that would help reduce the concentration of CO2 in the future,” they said.

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