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 L. Stenchikov, Rashyd Zaaboul, Jos Lelieveld

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59 Scopus citations


AbstractGlobal climate projections suggest a significant intensification of summer heat extremes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). To assess regional impacts, and underpin mitigation and adaptation measures, robust information is required from climate downscaling studies, which has been lacking for the region. Here, we project future hot spells by using the Heat Wave Magnitude Index and a comprehensive ensemble of regional climate projections for MENA. Our results, for a business-as-usual pathway, indicate that in the second half of this century unprecedented super- and ultra-extreme heatwave conditions will emerge. These events involve excessively high temperatures (up to 56 °C and higher) and will be of extended duration (several weeks), being potentially life-threatening for humans. By the end of the century, about half of the MENA population (approximately 600 million) could be exposed to annually recurring super- and ultra-extreme heatwaves. It is expected that the vast majority of the exposed population (>90%) will live in urban centers, who would need to cope with these societally disruptive weather conditions.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Journalnpj Climate and Atmospheric Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 23 2021

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-03-29
Acknowledgements: This research was supported by the EMME-CARE project that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program, under Grant Agreement No. 856612, as well as matching co-funding by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. It was co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Republic of Cyprus through the Research Innovation Foundation CELSIUS Project EXCELLENCE/1216/0039.


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