Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and The Cyprus Institute in Nicosia have released a study suggesting that climate change could cause Middle East and North Africa to reach temperatures so high that they will be uninhabitable. Furthermore, they believe that the current goal to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius will not be sufficient to prevent this scenario.
The Middle East and North Africa currently experience very hot summers, and their temperatures will increase two times faster when compared to the average pace of global warming. During hot days, temperatures in the south of the Mediterranean will reach around 46 degrees Celsius by the middle of the century, and the data reveals that these hot days will occur five times more often than they did at the turn of the millennium.
"In future, the climate in large parts of the Middle East and North Africa could change in such a manner that the very existence of its inhabitants is in jeopardy," said Jos Lelieveld, director at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, professor at The Cyprus Institute and first author of the study.
Lelieveld and his team revealed that even if the Earth's temperature only increased by an average of 2 degrees Celsius when compared to pre-industrial times, summer temperatures in the Middle East and North Africa will increase more than twofold. By the middle of the century, nighttime temperatures will not fall below 30 degrees Celsius during the warmest periods and could raise to 46 degrees Celsius during the daytime. Furthermore, heat waves may occur up to 10 times more often.
"If mankind continues to release carbon dioxide as it does now, people living in the Middle East and North Africa will have to expect about 200 unusually hot days, according to the model projections," said Panos Hadjinicolaou, an associate professor at The Cyprus Institute and co-author of the study.
Whether our climate change efforts improve our not, Lelieveld and Hadjinicolaou believe that the deterioration of living conditions for people living in the Middle East and North Africa is almost inevitable and that sooner or later, people will be forced to leave the region.
The findings were published in the April 23 issue of Climate Change.