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article imageHuman exodus expected as parts of Middle East and Africa heat up

By Karen Graham     May 3, 2016 in Environment
Parts of the Middle East and North Africa, home to 500 million people, could become uninhabitable by the middle of this century, forcing one of the world's largest human migrations to take place.
Based on a new study compiled by the Max Planck Institute, we could be experiencing a climate exodus of epic proportions by the middle of this century if temperatures continue to rise.
The frightening picture is based on two sets of climate scenarios that show that even if global temperatures are limited, regions in the Middle East and North Africa will still become too hot for human habitation. Study author Johannes Lelieveld and colleagues say that "day temperatures south of the Mediterranean will commonly reach approximately 46°C (114°F)."
In the study, reports Gizmodo, one scenario contends that if average global temperatures were to increase by 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times, summer temperatures in the affected regions would increase more than two-fold. This scenario is also called the "business-as-usual" scenario.
The increased temperatures, combined with prolonged droughts, and wind-blown desert dust storms would make life miserable for humans, forcing many to migrate. The thought that vast regions would become barren deserts is not pleasant to contemplate.
The second scenario assumes that global temperatures will remain below the 2.0 degree Celsius mark on pre-industrial levels. The study takes into account the possibility of greenhouse gas emissions decreasing by 2040 if nations uphold the Paris climate agreement.
The biggest problem found in both scenarios was that global surface temperatures will continue to rise in the Earth's desert regions, mainly in the summer months, where it is already hot and dry. Deserts can't cool very effectively unless there is groundwater evaporation, so this lack of evaporation will only increase greenhouse gasses.
We are already experiencing prolonged droughts and heatwaves in these regions. India has been engulfed in a punishing heat wave and drought, leaving hundreds of people dead and agricultural fields dried up. And in many parts of Africa, the same picture is being seen as thousands of people suffer from hunger and lack of water.
Jos Lelieveld, the director at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, said: "In the future, the climate in large parts of the Middle East and North Africa could change in such a manner that the very existence of its inhabitants is in jeopardy. If these projected high temperatures become reality, part of the region may become uninhabitable for some species, including humans."
This study, "Strongly increasing heat extremes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the 21st century," was published in the journal Climate Change in April.
More about Climate change, extreme heat, middle easst and africa, forced migration, climateexodus
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