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The rising danger of heat waves

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submitted on 2023-08-09, 07:14 and posted on 2023-09-26, 13:04 authored by Nature Research

A new computerized climate model suggests that the significant majority of children and elderly people in Qatar will be exposed to high levels of hazardous heat wave events in the next five years . Heat waves, defined as extended periods of unusually high temperatures, are well known to have adverse effects on human health and well being. These events do not just cause discomfort and inconvenience, but can exacerbate severe cardiac and respiratory diseases such as asthma. Heat waves are a major cause of fatality, and have significant negative impacts on agriculture, the economy and environment. The one that occurred in the summer of 2003, for example, is now considered to be the worst natural disaster of that year in the world. It was responsible for more than 70,000 deaths throughout Europe, and is estimated to have cost more than US$13 billion in economic loss. Summers in Qatar are prone to high temperatures, and a survey of school children there showed children had a prevalence of several respiratory diseases. This prompted Yasir Mohieldeen of the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute and his colleagues to launch a study of heat waves in the Gulf state. They used land surface temperature images obtained from remotely-sensed thermal data, combined with meteorological data, and integrated data about other important factors such as land use and air pollution to generate a predictive model of frequency, intensity and duration of heat waves in Qatar. The model, which is based on daily meteorological data from 2000 to 2012, suggests that at least 87% of Qatari infants under 4 years of age, as well as more than 86% of elderly people and 80% of the general population could be exposed to hazardous heat wave events at least once in the next five years. According to the model, heat waves are most likely to occur in Qatar’s northern coastal region, largely because of increased humidity and temperature as a result of air pollution from expansion of the oil and gas industries. In urban areas, such as the Qatari capital Doha, the heat waves will likely be due to increased carbon dioxide emissions from cars, the generation of electricity and heat from air conditioning units which are widespread across the country.

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Published in: Highlights, Published by Nature Research for Hamad bin Khalifa University Press (HBKU Press)



  • English


Nature Research

Publication Year

  • 2015

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This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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  • Hamad Bin Khalifa University

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