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Data-driven analysis of climate change in Saudi Arabia: trends in temperature extremes and human comfort indicators

by Natalia Odnoletkova, Tadeusz Patzek
Article Year: 2021 DOI: 10.1175/jamc-d-20-0273.1


We have analyzed the long-term temperature trends and extreme temperature events in Saudi Arabia between 1979 and 2019. Our study relies on the high resolution, consistent and complete ERA5 reanalysis data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). We evaluated linear trends in several climate descriptors, including temperature, dew point temperature, thermal comfort and extreme event indices. Previous works on this topic used data from weather station observations over limited time intervals and did not include temperature data for recent years. The years 2010-2019 have been the warmest decade ever observed by instrumental temperature monitoring and comprise the eight warmest years on record. Therefore the earlier results may be incomplete and their results no longer relevant. Our findings indicate that over the past four decades, Saudi Arabia has warmed up at a rate that is 50% higher than the rest of land mass in the Northern Hemisphere. Moreover, moisture content of the air has significantly increased in the region. The increases of temperature and humidity have resulted in the soaring of dew point temperature and thermal discomfort across the country. These increases are more substantial during summers, which are already very hot compared to winters. Such changes may be dangerous to people over vast areas of the country. If the current trend persists into the future, human survival in the region will be impossible without continuous access to air conditioning.



Odnoletkova, Natalia

Patzek, Tadeusz