Climate change will make Saudi Arabia uninhabitable by 2100

Saudi Arabia will host the 2029 Winter Olympics as its desert climate is one of the hardest hit by climate change. By the year 2100, this region of the world will experience regular temperatures of 50°C and more than 200 hot days per year.

Hosting the 2029 Winter Olympics in a hot desert climate might seem like an aberration, but it’s even more so when it comes to a country that’s hardest hit by climate change in the world. Furthermore, according to a study published by international researchers in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia is on track to become an uninhabitable region for the majority of living beings, including the human population, by the end of the century climate change.

Regular days above 50°C until 2100

The climate in Saudi Arabia is extreme by nature: in July and August the average temperature in the period 1991-2020 is 34-35 °C and in December and January 15-16 °C. Average rainfall is 1 to 2 mm per month in midsummer and 18 to 21 mm per month in spring. Despite the differing results of the various climate forecast models for the next 80 years, everyone agrees on one clear observation: The countries of the Middle East and North Africa will experience an increasingly hot and dry climate, especially in summer, according to the study by climate change.

In these regions of the world, the average temperature of the hottest days recorded between 1986 and 2005 was 43°C: this temperature will rise to 46°C by 2050 and then to 50°C by 2100. Clarification that these are average hot days, not peaks. This means that temperatures can regularly fluctuate both below and above 50°C throughout the year. Even if temperatures are limited to +2°C compared to pre-industrial levels (knowing that we are heading for +1.5°C within 5 years and +2°C by 2050), the temperature in this Part of the world will be well above 2°C.

More than 200 days of heat wave per year by the end of the century

Forecasts are for an increase of +2°C in Saudi Arabia by 2050 in winter. But as far as summer is concerned, the forecasts are much more alarming: +4°C by 2050 and +6°C by 2100. In desert regions like Saudi Arabia, the soil cannot retain moisture like it can in tropical regions of Africa, for example . Radiation between the atmosphere and the earth’s heat multiplies the rise in temperature associated with global warming.

In addition, in North Africa, as in the Middle East, the climate models are all oriented towards a gradual weakening of the winds from the north: the arrival of refreshing fresh air will therefore be less frequent and less powerful. The number of cool nights, which accounted for 7% of the year between 1986 and 2005, will account for only 1 to 2% of nights by mid-century, before falling to 0% in 2100. Hot nights currently take up 16% of the year. and will rise to 41 or even 54% by 2050, then to 60-70% by 2100. Note that the average temperature of the hottest nights was 30°C and will rise to 34°C by 2100.

Even more impressive, heat waves used to last an average of 16 days a year, and their number will increase to 83-118 days by 2050 and over 200 days by the end of the century!

The demand for water will explode

Saudi Arabia is characterized by an already very dry climate and an area consisting of 38% sandy desert. The country has always been affected by water supply difficulties. Water consumption is obviously very high, with an average of 362 liters per day per inhabitant (compared to 148 in France and 137 in the world average).

According to the association Young Ambassadors for the Climate (JAC) “ In 2019, 70% of that water came from energy-intensive seawater desalination plants, 24% from non-renewable groundwater, and 6% from renewable sources.”. With the increase in heat, the development of leisure infrastructure and the increase in human population, the demand for water will become an extremely sensitive issue in the next few years, which will be the subject of conflicts and migrations.

In late 2021, Saudi Arabia announced that it would aim for carbon neutrality by 2060, based mostly on offsetting emissions and very little on phasing out fossil fuels. But for the time being, most actions in this direction are still in the experimental stage.

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