New climate models suggest that parts of the Persian Gulf may experience waves of deadly heat that will eventually force humans to relocate. Shallow waters paired intense solar rays and clear skies make the area a perfect "hotspot" for climate change to make the area inhabitable for humans.
In a recent study, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Loyola Marymount University examined cities in the region to deteremine which could reach the "tipping point" for human survival. To do this, they used measurements called the "wet-bulb temperature," which combines temperature and humidity, and is the best measure of humans' ability to tolerate high temperatures without artificial cooling, according to a news release.
Essentially, humans can no longer rid themsevels of excess heat by sweating once they are exposed to more than six hours of 35-degree-Celsius heat. This limit was almost reached this summer during an extreme, weeklong heat wave when the wet-bulb temperature in Bandahr Mashrahr, Iran, hit 34.6 degrees Celsius for about an hour or less. This is only a fraction away from what researchers consider to be the lethal tipping point. However, severe danger to human health and life only occurs after one has been exposed to such temperatures for several hours. (Scroll to read more...)
From their study, researchers concluded that low-lying areas from Iran's southern coast to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dhahran, Saudia Arabia would be most affected by the current rate of warming temperatures. Their new climate models also indicate that the tipping point could be reached several times in a 30-year period toward the end of the century, according to the release.
"Our results expose a regional hotspot where climate change, in the absence of significant mitigation, is likely to severely impact human habitability in the future," the authors noted in their study.
The Persian Gulf region is characterized by low elevations, clear skies, and shallow waters that readily absorb increasing amounts of heat, which leads to high rates of evaporation and humidity. This makes the region especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, researchers explained. Their study was recently published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
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