idw – Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Nachrichten, Termine, Experten

Grafik: idw-Logo
Thema Corona

Imagefilm
Science Video Project
idw-News App:

AppStore



Share on: 
03/23/2021 11:58

Extreme temperatures, heat stress and forced migration

Anne Reuter Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

    Ignoring the signs of climate change will lead to unprecedented, societally disruptive heat extremes in the Middle East and North Africa

    The Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA) is a climate change hot spot where summers warm much faster than in the rest of the world. Some parts of the region are already among the hottest locations globally. A new international study led by scientists from the Climate and Atmosphere Research Center of the Cyprus Institute and the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry predicts that ignoring the signals of climate change and continuing business-as-usual with increasing greenhouse gas emissions will lead to extreme and life-threatening heatwaves in the region. Such extraordinary heat events will have a severe impact on the people of the area.

    The study, building on cooperation between climate scientists from the MENA region, aimed at assessing emerging heatwave characteristics. The research team used a first-of-its-kind multi-model ensemble of climate projections designed exclusively for the geographic area. Such detailed downscaling studies had been lacking for this region. The researchers then projected future hot spells and characterised them with the Heat Wave Magnitude Index. The good match among the model results and with observations indicates a high level of confidence in the heat wave projections.

    “Our results for a business-as-usual pathway indicate that especially in the second half of this century unprecedented super- and ultra-extreme heatwaves will emerge”, explains George Zittis of The Cyprus Institute, first author of the study. These events will involve excessively high temperatures of up to 56 degrees Celsius and higher in urban settings and could last for multiple weeks, being potentially life-threatening for humans and animals. In the second half of the century, about half of the MENA population or approximately 600 million people could be exposed to such annually recurring extreme weather conditions.

    “Vulnerable citizens may not have the means to adapt to such harsh environmental conditions”, adds Jos Lelieveld, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and leading the research team. “These heat waves combined with regional economic, political, social and demographic drivers have a high potential to cause massive, forced migration to cooler regions in the north.”

    To avoid such extreme heat events in the region, the scientists recommend immediate and effective climate change mitigation measures. “Such measures include drastic decreases of the emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, but also adaptation solutions for the cities in the area”, says Lelieveld.

    It is expected that in the next 50 years, almost 90 percent of the exposed population in the MENA will live in urban centers, which will need to cope with these societally disruptive weather conditions. “There is an urgent need to make the cities more resilient to climate change”, emphasizes Zittis.


    Contact for scientific information:

    Jos Lelieveld
    Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz
    Tel.: +49 6131 305-4040
    E-Mail: jos.lelieveld@mpic.de

    Georgios Zittis
    The Cyprus Institute, Cyprus
    Tel.: +357 22208662
    E-Mail: g.zittis@cyi.ac.cy


    Original publication:

    “Business-as-usual will lead to super and ultra-extreme heatwaves in the Middle East and North Africa”, George Zittis, Panos Hadjinicolaou, Mansour Almazroui , Edoardo Bucchignani, Fatima Driouech, Khalid El Rhaz , Levent Kurnaz, Grigory Nikulin , Athanasios Ntoumos , Tugba Ozturk, Yiannis Proestos, Georgiy Stenchikov, Rashyd Zaaboul, Jos Lelieveld, Nature Climate and Atmospheric Science, 2021, doi: doi.org/10.1038/s41612-021-00178-7


    Criteria of this press release:
    Journalists
    Environment / ecology, Oceanology / climate
    transregional, national
    Scientific Publications
    English


    Ignoring the signals of climate change and continuing business-as-usual will lead to extreme and life-threatening heatwaves in the Middle East and North Africa Region predicts a new study.


    For download

    x

    Calculations show that the number of ultra-extreme heat events will increase sharply in the coming decades. (MENA: Middle East and North Africa)


    For download

    x

    Help

    Search / advanced search of the idw archives
    Combination of search terms

    You can combine search terms with and, or and/or not, e.g. Philo not logy.

    Brackets

    You can use brackets to separate combinations from each other, e.g. (Philo not logy) or (Psycho and logy).

    Phrases

    Coherent groups of words will be located as complete phrases if you put them into quotation marks, e.g. “Federal Republic of Germany”.

    Selection criteria

    You can also use the advanced search without entering search terms. It will then follow the criteria you have selected (e.g. country or subject area).

    If you have not selected any criteria in a given category, the entire category will be searched (e.g. all subject areas or all countries).