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Heat Waves Topping 132 Degrees F Likely in Middle East Without Action on Climate Change

FRIDAY, April 30, 2021 -- The Middle East and North Africa are already among the hottest spots on the planet, but new research warns that if nothing is done to slow climate change there will be life-threatening heat waves with temperatures of 132 Fahrenheit or higher in those regions.

"Our results for a business-as-usual pathway indicate that, especially in the second half of this century, unprecedented super- and ultra-extreme heat waves will emerge," said study first author George Zittis, of The Cyprus Institute.

Temperatures could reach 132 F (56 degrees Celsius) and higher in urban areas and last for weeks, posing a life-threatening risk for humans and animals, even heat-tolerant animals, such as camels, the researchers said in a news release from the CMCC Foundation—Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change.

In the second half of the century, about half of the population in the Middle East and North Africa, or about 600 million people, could be exposed to such extreme heat each year, according to the report published online recently in the journal npj Climate and Atmospheric Science.

Immediate and effective action to slow climate change is needed to avoid such extreme heat events in the region, the study authors said.

In the next 50 years, nearly 90% of the region's population will live in urban areas, which will need to cope with these weather extremes that can cause social disruption, the researchers explained in a news release from the foundation.

According to study co-author Edoardo Bucchignani, "Heat waves are among the main climate change impacts affecting the Mediterranean area, including Italy."

Research into how climate change will affect this region has been lacking, noted Paola Mercogliano, director of the Regional Models and geo-Hydrological Impacts division at the CMCC Foundation.

"The scientific community dealing with regional climate modeling is mainly concentrated in Europe and North America, and there is still little interest and funding for studying the impacts of climate change in the Mediterranean and North African region," Mercogliano said in the news release.

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