Meteorological winter is less than a month away, but you wouldn’t know it in the United Arab Emirates. The country hit 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius) to start the week, a November record. Qatar, Oman, and Iran also reportedly approached national records.
In a region known for heat, 103 degrees Fahrenheit is still an eye-popping record for November. A large swath of the Middle East is baking under temperatures that are roughly 11 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius) hotter than normal. Forecasts indicate the heat could intensify a bit more in the coming days, upping the odds of more record falling.
The heat is a grim extension of a trend that’s become all too familiar for the Middle East. This summer, temperatures in the region topped 125 degrees Fahrenheit (52 degrees Celsius) while in March, it reached a blistering 112 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius). The latter set an all-time March temperature record in Kuwait.
News of the Middle East heat wave comes towards the end of an already sweltering year across the globe. In the U.S., a staggering heat wave in the Pacific Northwest broke records and Death Valley tied the hottest temperature ever reliably recorded on Earth. Other parts of the world were seared by heat, too, which drove an explosive wildfire season around the northern half of the globe.
Worldwide, July 2021 also marked the hottest month on record according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This sweat-inducing weather is the climate crisis’ calling card. The world has warmed more than 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) since the start of the Industrial Revolution due the world’s reliance on burning fossil fuels. That seemingly small bump up in the global average has tilted the odds toward extreme heat that was once rare or nearly impossible. The Pacific Northwest heat wave, for example, was a 1-in-150,000-year event in pre-industrial times. But a snap analysis found that climate change made it a 1-in-1,000-year event.
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Unfortunately, dramatic heat waves and extreme weather events are poised to continue and worsen. The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report found heat waves with odds of occurring once every 50 years before humans pumped carbon pollution into the atmosphere are now roughly five times more likely—and they’ll become 14 times more likely if the world even if the world manages to keep global warming to levels outlined in the Paris Agreement. Just this week, the World Meteorological Organization released its State of the Climate report, which predicts powerful heat waves are likely the new normal. According to that report, the past seven years are shaping up to be the seven warmest on record.
Perhaps that’s why a survey conducted by Nature and released this week found the majority of IPCC scientists said they expect catastrophic effects from greenhouse gas emissions within their lifetimes. Six out of 10 of those surveyed said they expected the planet to warm at least 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius).