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Temperature and Humidity Extremes Predicted for 2100


A Nature Climate Change letter posted online today (and reported in the New York Times) predicts that, under a business-as-usual scenario, temperatures will increase in the area around the Arabian Gulf to the point that human habitation will be impossible.  The combination of temperature and humidity known as the wet-bulb temperature will exceed 35 degrees Celsius in places such as Doha, Qatar around the Arabian Gulf by 2100.  Previous predictions did not have the temperature increasing so rapidly; intolerable temperatures were not predicted until 2200.  The letter reports a new, more detailed analysis of future weather conditions. The temperature increase is not as great a consequence in the affluent parts of the Gulf  as it is in poorer areas like Aden and coastal Yemen; more well-to-do inhabitants will at least have air conditioning.  Those who cannot retreat to air-conditioned houses during the heat of the day will probably be driven out of these areas in the summer.

It is already hot in this part of the world; temperatures sometimes exceed 55 degrees Celsius.  In the coastal areas of the Arabian Gulf, humid air makes the heat even more stressful.  The Muslim pilgrimage, or hajj, frequently occurs in the summertime in this area and higher temperatures are expected to cause severe heat stress for pilgrims who are obligated to perform outdoor rituals during daylight hours.  There are over two million people participating in the hajj every year, and a 2 degrees Celsius increase in average maximum temperature is likely to cause additional distress.

Ironically, this area is also the site of some of the largest and easiest to reach oil deposits in the world.  Burning this oil has helped to bring on the climate change which is threatening to make the area uninhabitable.

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