Bahrain gets hotter as global climate changes
Manama, June 15, 2014
Global warming is behind soaring temperatures in Bahrain and is to blame for the country sweltering through record-breaking heat, according to the country's top weather expert.
It is also responsible for declining rainfall and increasingly dusty conditions, Transportation Ministry meteorology director Adel Daham told the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication in an exclusive interview.
Twenty-one hot weather records have been broken in Bahrain since the start of the 21st century - including hottest month, hottest year and hottest temperature on record.
Bahrain's weather data goes back to 1902, but in just the past two decades the country has set records for the highest average maximum temperatures for January, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December.
Last month was Bahrain's second hottest May since records began with average temperatures of 32.4C, second only to May 2012 when the average temperature stood at 32.8C.
"The mean (average) maximum temperatures have all, with the exception of February and March, happened in the last two decades," said Daham.
Meanwhile, July 2002 goes on record as having the highest average maximum temperature for a month at 41.4C, while July 13 2010 was the hottest day on record with the mercury hitting 47.4C.
"Looking at the mean annual temperature for Bahrain since 1948, it is clear that in the last 16 years the temperatures have been above normal compared with the long-term mean," added Daham.
"If you look at the trend these figures show, it shows the temperature will continue to increase and move away from the mean.
"This means that instead of fixing the issue, it is getting worse."
Bahrain's long-term average temperature in 1948 was 26.1C, but it rose to more than 27C in 2012 and looks set to continue rising.
A one-degree difference might seem insignificant over a period of 64 years, but the increase has been accelerated by a rapid rise in annual temperatures since the turn of the millennium.
Daham said the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), for which he is Bahrain's permanent representative, has warned against any rise in temperatures of over 2C "to avoid the worst consequences".
He highlighted the change in temperatures by comparing the decade from 1974 to 1983 with the same period from 2004 to 2013.
"The mean increase in temperature from 1974 to 1983 and 2004 to 2013 is between 0.5C to 1.5C," he said.
"It's a very clear difference and it's similar to the world mean increase.
"That shows us that Bahrain's temperatures, like the rest of the world, are being affected by global warming."
The weather expert said the hotter temperatures had been accompanied by a dramatic drop in rainfall, which was also a result of climate change.
In fact, he revealed that Bahrain would have faced a drought last year if it wasn't for six days of heavy rain.
"Over the last 10 to 15 years we have had very little rain," Daham said.
"The long-term average in Bahrain, from 1948 to 2013, is 71mm.
"Last year, we got our entire mean (average) in just six days - if we hadn't those six days of torrential rain, we would have had a drought.
"However, the lack of rain is not just over Bahrain, but over the whole region - especially the countries to the north of the Arabian Gulf like Kuwait, Iraq and the northern part of Saudi Arabia.
"This is the result of climate change."
This lack of rain combined with greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide emissions has in turn led to an increase in dust, explained Daham.
"The worst year of dust we had was in 2008, when we had 84 days with visibility of 5,000 metres or less," he said.
This compares with the previous worst year in 2000, when there were 55 dusty days.
"It (dust) has been increasing," added Daham.
"Over the last 10 years, the number of days per year we've had with dust has been abnormal.
"Since 2008, it has always been above 60 days a year, with 69 in 2009 and 63 each in 2010 and 2011.
"In 2012, we had 70, although this fell to 35 last year.
"It comes as a result of emissions of greenhouses gases and carbon dioxide.
"This is particularly bad because it has increased the number of people with asthma in Bahrain and causes many road accidents."
The GDN reported in 2011 that an Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme report estimated up to 22 per cent of Bahrain's land could be underwater by the end of the century as a result of global sea levels rising by a metre or more due to climate change. - TradeArabia News Service