Weather pattern could lead to more flooding but also benefit home-grown food production, scientists say.
Spells of heavy rain that can cause flash flooding in the UAE have become longer lasting over the past two decades, a study has found.
Khalifa University of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi and the National Centre of Meteorology (NCM), also in the UAE capital, found these events in the southeastern Arabian peninsula “may be even more impactful in a warming world”.
However, while they create the risk of floods, such episodes also offer opportunities in a country where precipitation is limited.
In a study recently published in the journal Atmospheric Research, scientists looked at mesoscale convective systems (MCSs), a weather pattern that most commonly causes severe weather in March or April.
They analyzed 95 of these between 2000 and 2020, and found they were caused by particular wind patterns and moisture coming from the Arabian Sea, Arabian Gulf or Red Sea.
They looked at observational data and records from satellites, for example, and found that, over time, these events over the UAE were lasting longer.
Some of the most severe episodes happened in 2016 when there was severe flooding after more than 240mm of rain fell in Dubai, and Abu Dhabi experienced winds of nearly 80mph.
Climate change key to changing weather patterns
Dr. Diana Francis believes climate change is key to the increased frequency of heavy rain in the Emirates
“We believe that global warming and climate change are likely responsible for the increase in the duration of MCSs over the study region,” said Dr Diana Francis, an author of the study.
Dr. Francis, who heads the environmental and geophysical sciences laboratory at Khalifa University, said a warmer atmosphere could hold more water vapor, meaning extreme events last longer.