Saudi Arabia will host the 2029 Winter Olympics as its desert climate is one of the hardest hit by climate change. By 2100, this region of the world will regularly experience temperatures of 50 ° C and over 200 heatwave days per year.
Hosting the 2029 Winter Olympics in a hot desert climate may seem like an aberration, but it is even more so when it comes to a country most affected by climate change in the world. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia is on track to become an unlivable region for most living things, including the human population, by the end of the century, according to a study by international researchers published in Climate change.
Regular days above 50 ° C by 2100
The climate of Saudi Arabia is naturally extreme: in July and August, the average temperature in the period 1991-2020 is between 34 and 35 ° C and between 15 and 16 ° C in December and January. It falls on average from 1 to 2 mm of rain per month in midsummer and from 18 to 21 mm per month in spring. Despite the differences in the results of the various climate forecast models for the next 80 years, they all agree on a clear observation: the countries of the Middle East and North Africa will experience an increasingly hot and dry climate, especially in summer, according to the study. Climate change.
In these regions of the world the average temperature of the hottest days recorded between 1986 and 2005 was 43 ° C: this will rise to 46 ° C by 2050, then to 50 ° C by 2100 Clarification that this is a average of hot days, no peaks. This means that temperatures will regularly fluctuate both below and above 50 ° C throughout the year. Even in the case of temperature limitation to + 2 ° C compared to pre-industrial levels (knowing that it goes towards + 1.5 ° C within 5 years and + 2 ° C by 2050), the increase in temperatures in this part of the world will be well above 2 ° C.
More than 200 heatwave days per year by the end of the century
The projections are for a + 2 ° C increase in Saudi Arabia by 2050 during the winter. But, as far as summer is concerned, the forecasts are much more alarming: + 4 ° C by 2050 and + 6 ° C by 2100. In desert regions such as Saudi Arabia, the soil does not have the ability to store moisture. , such as in the tropical regions of Africa. The radiation between the atmosphere and the heat of the soil multiplies the temperature rise associated with global warming.
Furthermore, in North Africa as in the Middle East, climate models are all oriented towards a progressive weakening of the winds from the north: the arrivals of refreshing fresh air will therefore be less frequent and less powerful. The number of cool nights, 7% of the year between 1986 and 2005, will occupy only 1 to 2% of the nights by mid-century, before dropping to 0% in 2100. Warm nights currently occupy the 16% of the year, and will increase to 41 or even 54% by 2050, then from 60 to 70% by 2100. Note that the average temperature of the hottest nights was 30 ° C and will rise to 34 ° C by 2100.
Even more impressive: heat waves lasted an average of 16 days a year and their number will increase to 83-118 days by 2050 and more than 200 days a year by the end of the century!
The demand for water will explode
Saudi Arabia is characterized by an already very arid climate and by an area composed of 38% of sandy desert. The country has always been hit by water supply difficulties. Water consumption is obviously very high, with an average of 362 liters per day and per inhabitant (compared to 148 in France and 137 on average in the world).
According to the Young Ambassadors for the Climate (JAC), ” in 2019, 70% of this water came from energy-intensive seawater desalination plants, 24% from non-renewable groundwater and 6% from renewable sources “. With the increase in heat, the development of leisure infrastructures and the increase of the human population, the demand for water will become an extremely sensitive subject in the coming years, subject to conflict and migration.
In late 2021, Saudi Arabia announced it was aiming for carbon neutrality by 2060, based primarily on offsetting emissions and very little on phasing out fossil fuels. But, for the moment, most of the actions carried out in this direction remain in the experimental phase.