News Analysis: Deadly downpours expose gap in Gulf region's climate preparedness


  • World
  • Sunday, 21 Apr 2024

DOHA, April 20 (Xinhua) -- As rainfalls are forecasted to come back next week in the Persian Gulf region, where people are still recovering from record torrential rains and deadly flash floods, experts called for actions to prepare for and adjust to similar impacts of climate change.

Last week, a low-pressure system edging toward the Arabian Sea triggered rounds of heavy downpours in Oman and the United Arab Emirates, killing at least 25 people in the two countries.

UAE meteorologist Ali Ahmed told Xinhua that although heavy rain has eased, the lingering low-pressure system is expected to bring another round of light to moderate rainfall in the region in recent days.

Flash floods brought by two days of cloudburst since Sunday killed 21 people in Oman, according to the Oman National Committee for Emergency Management.

On Tuesday, the UAE witnessed its heaviest rainfall in 75 years. In a country typical with less than 100 mm annual rainfall records, a 24-hour rainfall of 254.8 mm was registered Tuesday at a weather station near Al-Ain in UAE's Abu Dhabi.

Videos show large airplanes moving through flooded tarmacs in Dubai International Airport, where numerous flights got canceled and delayed, affecting thousands of passengers.

Due to the subtropical dry, hot desert climate, precipitation is rare in the region. Although local authorities issued weather alerts in advance and rushed to evacuate people in affected areas, the unprecedented rain caught countless by big surprise.

Samy Ashraf, a researcher from the Egyptian Meteorological Authority (EMA), said it is how climate change can turn an expected seasonal rain event into a disaster.

Oman and UAE are among the regional countries that share the coast of the Arabian Sea, a major sea in the north Indian Ocean. Bound to the west by the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Peninsula and north by the Gulf of Oman, the Ocean produces tropical cyclones throughout the year, mainly from May to June and October to December.

This made the two countries often vulnerable to violent depression during transitional seasons, said Ali Qutb, former vice president of the EMA.

A depression is an area of low pressure associated with unsettled weather. The air within the depression rises, causing it to cool and the water vapor condenses into clouds. The rising air within a depression causes an area of low pressure at the surface. The deeper the depression, the more unsettled the weather.

Qutb added that the warming of tropical seawater due to climate change could also lead to increased tropical storms and other extreme weather events.

According to Ashraf, the harsh rain exposed the lack of adequate measures among Gulf countries to cope with such an impact, such as weak drainage systems and ill-regulated water storage capacity.

Ashraf suggested regional countries take action to boost their climate-adaptive levels, such as strengthening sanitation infrastructure, building more spillways, and enhancing drainage capacity in the long run.

Qutb called for more robust global climate governance to mitigate global warming. To this end, major industrialized countries should achieve the set carbon emission targets and cut the use of fossil fuels, said Qutb.

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