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Sand storms in region 'damaging people's health'

Manama, January 31, 2011

Dust and sand storms in Bahrain and the region risk damaging people's health and could lead to climate change, an expert has warned.

Dust and sand particles hanging in the air for long periods of time prevent the sun's rays from reaching the ground, leading to colder than usual weather, said Geneva-based World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) research department scientific officer Slobodan Nickovic.

'Gradually, this can lead to the weather patterns changing,' he told our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News (GDN).

Speaking on the sidelines of an international symposium on sand and dust storms in the Arab region, he said while it is impossible to prevent such conditions given the huge desert areas in the region, one could predict them better and manage the situation in advance.

'Though climate change is an important side effect, people's health being affected is a major issue if these dust storms are not managed properly,' said Nickovic.

He said a number of studies on climate change found ground temperatures can drop up to 6C if dust blankets the atmosphere.

'Over a period of time, this can lead to the dynamics of tropical cyclones and monsoon changes, something that could have an impact in this region,' said the expert.

Nickovic stated the symposium was an important event where experts from the region had gathered to discuss ways and strategies to combat the problem.

'We will share ideas and come to tangible conclusions so we can manage these situations better,' he said.

The two-day event, which concludes today, is being held under the patronage of Bahrain's Civil Aviation Affairs and attended by meteorological and aviation meteorology experts from all over the region, the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) and the WMO.

CAA aviation services assistant under-secretary Ahmed Nehmat Ali said Bahrain was a pioneer in offering not only meteorological services, but also aviation meteorology.

'We started doing this is 1902 when the world was far behind. We are now keen to pass on this expertise to others,' he said.

Ali said since 80 per cent of the GCC and the Middle East was desert, it was important they discuss these issues.

'We intend to bring all such organisations all over the region under one umbrella so that we are better able to manage the repercussions,' he said.

The official said Bahrain was also looking at a co-ordinated response and management strategy to minimise the effects of sand and dust, with particular reference to the aviation sector.

'We plan to set up a mechanism to consolidate and review the methods of monitoring sand and dust in the atmosphere and use the latest technology in doing so,' added Ali.

The event will also address the issues of forecasting and early warning systems so that the economic and social effects of such incidents can be reduced.

United Nations development Programme (UNDP) Bahrain resident representative Sayed Aqa and WMO Bahrain representative Jasser Rabadi were among those present.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Global warming | Environment | pollution | climate change | sand storms | health hazard |

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