Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Climate change can wipe out 80% of UAE mangrove

From: Khaleej Times Online

Farhana Chowdhury
DUBAI - The UAE may lose around 80 per cent of its mangrove areas if the sea level rises to three metres, according to Dr Taoufik Ksiksi, Associate Professor in Terrestrial Ecology and Environment at UAE University. And the sea level rise is in turn caused by the compound effects of climate change.

“Climate change is happening at a faster rate in the present time when compared to previous decades and centuries. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had reported that this part of the world may undergo major changes in frequency of extreme weather conditions and the UAE is going through an extreme weather condition right now,” he said.

Dr Taoufik, who is currently involved in a research on the sea level rise (SLR) effects on the coastal areas of Abu Dhabi, linked carbon dioxide as one of the main elements affecting weather today adding that it has a direct effect on the hydrological cycle which in turn affects precipitation.

“There are three levels in which the UAE is affected: increase of greenhouse gases leading to global warming and ultimately to climate change. There will be 5.8 degree Celsius temperature hike by year 2100 because the blanket of carbon dioxide is getting thicker due to greenhouse gas emissions. Such an effect will affect any country, the UAE included, from an economic, social and environmental aspects. Action plans are to be developed and adopted to face such major changes in SLR and extreme weather events. Tree plantations are one simple and direct way to offset the carbon dioxide emissions,” he said. Dr Taoufik’s research focuses on the impact of increased carbon dioxide on desert ecosystems and plants, and potential sequestration of soil carbon by native plant species.

Residents have felt that daytimes were noticeably warm this year in November and early December compared to last year, but an Abu Dhabi-based forecaster said that there has been no difference between the period, and winter is expected to arrive in the country at its usual time. Figures from the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) show that the average minimum and maximum temperature ranged between 31.8 degree Celsius and 20.2 degree Celsius in November 2009 while November 2010 had an average minimum and maximum temperature between 30.9 degree Celsius and 19.8 degree Celsius, respectively. The forecaster added that Western regions are expected to face temperatures below normal this winter. “From my own experience as a resident in Dubai, it does seem like last winter was particularly wet, with some severe flooding in certain areas. Again, this year’s summer was extremely hot, with temperatures rarely dropping below 40°C. There are so many factors that can affect the weather, but I do believe that climate change is happening and human activities are exacerbating the issue,” said Habiba Al Marashi, Emirates Environmental Group (EEG) Chairperson.

“There are many predictions for weather patterns posted across the Internet, but the most common pattern and most reliable sources suggest that the climate in the Middle East will become hotter, drier and less predicable. With increasing populations and diminishing water supplies, these predictions are worrying; all Middle Eastern countries, especially the UAE, should be actively searching for alternative greener ways to provide water security, because water is the basis of life,” added Marashi.