pub-9018797892728621
The Impact Of Building Regulations And Energy Management Systems

The Impact Of Building Regulations And Energy Management Systems

Energy Efficiency: The Impact Of Building Regulations And Energy Management Systems are elaborated in this article.

Dr Mutasim Nour, Director of MSc Energy and MSc Renewable Energy Engineering programmes at Heriot-Watt University Dubai expresses his views on the impact of building regulations and energy management systems on maximising energy efficiency

The picture above is for illustration and is of How energy efficient are buildings in Dubai? by Energy Live News

The Impact Of Building Regulations And Energy Management Systems by 
Dr Mutasim Nour, Director of MSc Energy and MSc Renewable Energy Engineering programmes at Heriot-Watt University Dubai
Dr Mutasim Nour, Director of MSc Energy and MSc Renewable Energy Engineering programmes at Heriot-Watt University Dubai

Currently, just over half the world’s population lives in cities, but that is expected to rise to 68% by 2050. As a consequence, world energy demand is set to increase by more than 50 percent by 2050, according to predictions by the US Energy Information Administration – resulting in even higher energy consumption.

Hence, rapid urbanisation and a rapidly growing population along with climate change are key challenges that cities and countries must urgently address.

Closer to home, energy efficiency is a rising challenge in the UAE, due to a growing population, rise in economic activity, and increased energy consumption at a pace that will be difficult to provide for over the long term.

In a growing economy, energy consumption will rise despite reductions in the energy intensity of developed economies.

Although more and more cities are boosting their commitment and progress to becoming net zero carbon, they still have a long way to go. With climate change worsening, more action is required on specific fronts. Everything from factories and homes to transport systems and consumer devices need to become more energy efficient.

One such solution lies in implementing Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS), i.e.  automation systems that collect energy measurement data from the field and make it available to users through graphics, online monitoring tools, and energy quality analysers, thus enabling the management of energy resources.

The effectiveness of energy policies and regulations

Prior research indicates that buildings consume 80% of the overall energy demand in the UAE (UAE) and 40% across the globe. The UAE’s Federal Electricity & Water Authority (FEWA) estimates that around 60 to 70 percent of energy demand in the UAE currently stems from building HVAC requirements, with split air-conditioning units making up an estimated 60-70 percent of cooling systems in the market.

Therefore, the UAE as a whole, and Dubai in particular, have put in place different energy security and efficiency strategies such as UAE Vision 2021, Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 (aims to reduce Dubai’s total energy consumption by 30% by 2030), and Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 (gradually increase the employment of clean energy sources to 75 per cent by 2050).

Additionally, Dubai has established the ‘Green Building Regulations and Specifications’ (GBRS) which aims to improve the performance of buildings in Dubai by reducing the consumption of energy, water and materials; improving public health, safety and general welfare; and by enhancing the planning, design, construction and operation of buildings.

Although not mandatory, GBRS acts more as a guideline for developers and contractors and offers recommendations for constructing energy efficient buildings in Dubai. It is intended to support Dubai’s Strategic Plan, create a more sustainable urban environment and extend the ability of the Emirate’s infrastructure to meet the needs of future development.

Maximising hedonic efficiency (extent to which the delivered service meets the demand) will offer a route to providing optimal service with reduced consumption. However, it is challenging to draft policy initiatives to maximise hedonic efficiency. This needs to be explored and considered by the professional and regulatory bodies.

In addition to a more persuasive regulatory framework, marketing and awareness campaigns that encourage building owners, occupants, developers, and other stakeholders to lessen their energy consumption can have a positive impact on energy conservation. DEWA’s ‘Smart Living’ initiative is one such example that allows consumers monitor their electricity (and water) consumption easily and make smarter decisions to reduce consumption.

Additionally, the adoption of innovative technologies such as EMS are needed for a more cohesive approach to achieving energy-efficiency.

BEMS to the rescue

BEMS enables real-time remote monitoring and integrated control of a broad spectrum of connected systems – allowing modes of operation, energy usage, environmental conditions and so on to be observed and allowing hours of operation, set points and more to be adapted in order to improve energy performance and occupancy comfort.

According to Mordor Intelligence, the Middle East and African market for energy management systems is projected to grow at a CAGR of 11.87% to reach USD 3.76 billion by 2021. This growth in demand comes from concerns over declining energy security, ambitious environmental goals, and the reduced cost of sensors, analytics software and data storage.

Currently, adoption levels across the GCC are lower due to a lack of codified regulation. Hence, a directive from the government to deploy energy management systems could play a critical role in helping country meet its sustainability targets.

There are two major aspects of constructing energy efficient buildings: using “green” design and building materials during the construction phase; and continuous monitoring and controlling energy consumption during the operation phase. While there has been enough emphasis on sustainable construction in some GCC states, there is very little attention on the installation of energy management systems. Focusing on energy management systems should be a key factor in the efforts towards creating a sustainable built environment in the region.

It is claimed that the magnitude of savings accomplished by BEMS can range from 10% to 25%. If used properly, BEMS should allow the optimisation of energy consumption without compromising on comfort or performance. But this requires an in-depth knowledge of how buildings are meant to perform, and how different systems within them communicate. In order to operate accurately, BEMS should be properly designed, installed and commissioned as well as have a user interface that is easy to use.

BEMS may have remote outposts that can be probed locally, or may be managed via mobile devices. However, some buildings could be susceptible to cyberattacks, especially when they are related to critical organisations. This can become an issue in the case of functions that run in the ‘cloud’, such as cloud-based analytics, and the ability to access and manage multiple sites remotely. The ability to retrieve live analytics, or receive alarm notifications from hand-held devices has enormous potential benefits, but may also bring additional risks.

BEMS taken into consideration right from the start of a new construction project can help owners and facility managers gain better control over energy use. Given the large push for sustainability, especially within the built environment, BEMS can therefore become crucial in Dubai and the UAE as more and more green projects come to fruition. 

The current generation of smart cities aiming to make buildings greener and smarter should invest more in BEMS and other technologies. Moving forward, BEMS will play a vital role in contributing towards the sustainability goals of energy-smart cities, as sensor-equipped, energy consuming devices such as HVAC, lighting, and refrigeration, become more integrated with BEMS.



Solar Panels in Sahara could boost Renewable Energy but

Solar Panels in Sahara could boost Renewable Energy but

Solar panels in Sahara could boost renewable energy but damage the global climate – here’s why

By Zhengyao Lu, Lund University and Benjamin Smith, Western Sydney University

The world’s most forbidding deserts could be the best places on Earth for harvesting solar power – the most abundant and clean source of energy we have. Deserts are spacious, relatively flat, rich in silicon – the raw material for the semiconductors from which solar cells are made — and never short of sunlight. In fact, the ten largest solar plants around the world are all located in deserts or dry regions.

Researchers imagine it might be possible to transform the world’s largest desert, the Sahara, into a giant solar farm, capable of meeting four times the world’s current energy demand. Blueprints have been drawn up for projects in Tunisia and Morocco that would supply electricity for millions of households in Europe.

While the black surfaces of solar panels absorb most of the sunlight that reaches them, only a fraction (around 15%) of that incoming energy gets converted to electricity. The rest is returned to the environment as heat. The panels are usually much darker than the ground they cover, so a vast expanse of solar cells will absorb a lot of additional energy and emit it as heat, affecting the climate.

If these effects were only local, they might not matter in a sparsely populated and barren desert. But the scale of the installations that would be needed to make a dent in the world’s fossil energy demand would be vast, covering thousands of square kilometres. Heat re-emitted from an area this size will be redistributed by the flow of air in the atmosphere, having regional and even global effects on the climate.

Solar Panels in Sahara could boost Renewable Energy
A satellite view of four different solar farms in deserts.
Clockwise from top left: Bhadla solar park, India; Desert Sublight solar farm, US; Hainanzhou solar park, China and Ouarzazate solar park, Morocco. Google Earth, Author provided

A greener Sahara

A 2018 study used a climate model to simulate the effects of lower albedo on the land surface of deserts caused by installing massive solar farms. Albedo is a measure of how well surfaces reflect sunlight. Sand, for example, is much more reflective than a solar panel and so has a higher albedo.

The model revealed that when the size of the solar farm reaches 20% of the total area of the Sahara, it triggers a feedback loop. Heat emitted by the darker solar panels (compared to the highly reflective desert soil) creates a steep temperature difference between the land and the surrounding oceans that ultimately lowers surface air pressure and causes moist air to rise and condense into raindrops. With more monsoon rainfall, plants grow and the desert reflects less of the sun’s energy, since vegetation absorbs light better than sand and soil. With more plants present, more water is evaporated, creating a more humid environment that causes vegetation to spread.

This scenario might seem fanciful, but studies suggest that a similar feedback loop kept much of the Sahara green during the African Humid Period, which only ended 5,000 years ago.

So, a giant solar farm could generate ample energy to meet global demand and simultaneously turn one of the most hostile environments on Earth into a habitable oasis. Sounds perfect, right?

Not quite. In a recent study, we used an advanced Earth system model to closely examine how Saharan solar farms interact with the climate. Our model takes into account the complex feedbacks between the interacting spheres of the world’s climate – the atmosphere, the ocean and the land and its ecosystems. It showed there could be unintended effects in remote parts of the land and ocean that offset any regional benefits over the Sahara itself.

Drought in the Amazon, cyclones in Vietnam

Covering 20% of the Sahara with solar farms raises local temperatures in the desert by 1.5°C according to our model. At 50% coverage, the temperature increase is 2.5°C. This warming is eventually spread around the globe by atmosphere and ocean movement, raising the world’s average temperature by 0.16°C for 20% coverage, and 0.39°C for 50% coverage. The global temperature shift is not uniform though – the polar regions would warm more than the tropics, increasing sea ice loss in the Arctic. This could further accelerate warming, as melting sea ice exposes dark water which absorbs much more solar energy.

This massive new heat source in the Sahara reorganises global air and ocean circulation, affecting precipitation patterns around the world. The narrow band of heavy rainfall in the tropics, which accounts for more than 30% of global precipitation and supports the rainforests of the Amazon and Congo Basin, shifts northward in our simulations. For the Amazon region, this causes droughts as less moisture arrives from the ocean. Roughly the same amount of additional rainfall that falls over the Sahara due to the surface-darkening effects of solar panels is lost from the Amazon. The model also predicts more frequent tropical cyclones hitting North American and East Asian coasts.

Solar Panels in Sahara could boost Renewable Energy
Four maps depicting regional climate changes under different Sahara solar farm scenarios.
Global temperature, rainfall and surface wind changes in simulations with 20% and 50% solar panel coverage of Sahara. Lu et al. (2021), Author provided

Some important processes are still missing from our model, such as dust blown from large deserts. Saharan dust, carried on the wind, is a vital source of nutrients for the Amazon and the Atlantic Ocean. So a greener Sahara could have an even bigger global effect than our simulations suggested.

We are only beginning to understand the potential consequences of establishing massive solar farms in the world’s deserts. Solutions like this may help society transition from fossil energy, but Earth system studies like ours underscore the importance of considering the numerous coupled responses of the atmosphere, oceans and land surface when examining their benefits and risks.

Zhengyao Lu, Researcher in Physical Geography, Lund University and Benjamin Smith, Director of Research, Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University


Read more: Should we turn the Sahara Desert into a huge solar farm?


This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation

MENA States keen to invest in Smart Cities

MENA States keen to invest in Smart Cities

MENA states keen to invest in smart cities, social infra under Belt and Road Initiative related projects.

The picture above is for illustration and is of the BBC‘s.

DUBAI, Social infrastructure, logistics, as well as smart city projects are the top three most cited sectors where businesses in the Middle East and North Africa have plans to invest in Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)-related opportunities.

According to a survey commissioned by international law firm CMS, almost equal proportions of MENA respondents (44% and 41%) plan to target BRI opportunities in social infrastructure (hospitals and healthcare) and the logistics sectors, while slightly more than a third (37%) intend to invest in smart city projects. The fourth most cited sector was transportation (road) infrastructure with 35%. 

There is also a rising interest in ‘greener’, more sustainable and eco-friendly sectors such as renewables and hydro. Only 11% of MENA respondents had previously been involved in clean energy projects with one-fifth (20%) in conventional power developments. These priorities have now been reversed with 24% of MENA respondents planning to target renewables projects and 17% looking at conventional power developments. Almost three-quarters (72%) of MENA respondents say it is important that BRI projects are sustainable and eco-friendly while 63% of Chinese respondents share the same view. 

MENA States keen to invest in Smart Cities

Smart cities – the star that shine 

MENA continues to be one of the leading regions in its enthusiasm for smart cities, with 37% of MENA respondents planning to invest in the sector and a little over half (55%) listing it as one of the five sectors presenting the most BRI opportunities. This proportion was significantly higher than the findings of similar BRI surveys conducted by CMS in other regions where the average was 40%.

Karim Fawaz, CMS Corporate and Technology partner, comments: “Such enthusiasm may, in part, reflect the projects already underway in the region such as The Line which is part of Neom in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait’s Silk City which are being built from the ground up. However, we also found increasing interest in the development of existing urban areas aimed at having smart and AI-connected areas as opposed to individual endeavours. These projects focus on improving the quality of life and the collection of data to enhance security, health, entertainment and other areas. While Chinese financiers and contractors are already involved in building smart cities such as Morocco’s Mohammed VI Tangier Tech City, Chinese companies are going a step further and taking space in these smart cities to set up operations – a sign of their optimism in potential opportunities and openness to private-public-partnerships.”

Digital and Health Silk Roads

As the pandemic continues to cause disruption and a global shift towards a more virtual world, the potential benefits of improved digital infrastructure for any country are clear. However, less than a tenth (7%) of MENA respondents are considering Digital Silk Road (DSR) projects (a decrease from the 12% that had considered them in the past), and a large majority (81%) have never considered them. In contrast, over one-third (35%) of Chinese respondents are considering DSR projects. 

David Moore, CMS Infrastructure and Projects partner and UAE Managing Partner, says: “Some BRI participants are keen to be involved in DSR projects but are wary of potential problems such as rapidly evolving technical standards, cybersecurity and geopolitical tensions. These issues may limit the scope of DSR in some markets. However, with so many BRI countries, including many in MENA, still in need of new tech and comms infrastructure, there will clearly still be significant opportunities for BRI participants along the DSR.”

“We expect the DSR initiative to be further bolstered by China’s new Five-Year Plan2 which is likely to have implications for the future of BRI such as more emphasis on creating markets for technology originating in China and incorporating Chinese standards. This should lead to even more of a focus on ‘smart’ infrastructure. Some foreign businesses may find access to China easier while China will seek to strengthen its supply chains, an imperative likely to be reflected in some strategic BRI infrastructure projects,” adds Moore.

In 2020, the pandemic highlighted deficiencies in the health infrastructure in many BRI countries. CMS’s survey revealed a strong consensus that the pandemic will lead to an increased emphasis on the Health Silk Road (HSR) – an overwhelming majority (94%) of MENA respondents expect this to happen. This is in line with, as noted above, the 44% of MENA respondents planning to target BRI projects involving social infrastructure such as hospitals and healthcare – a rise from 33% who have previously done so. 

Mark Rocca, CMS Life Sciences and Healthcare partner in Dubai, comments: “The effectiveness of the HSR in enabling speedy transfer of medical supplies and equipment was clear to see during the pandemic. Across MENA, there is considerable scope for investment in ‘next generation’ medical infrastructure, particularly in relation to telemedicine and other digital applications. These offer potential synergies with the DSR.”

Obstacles and risks

Two-thirds (65%) of MENA respondents described national governments and political issues as one of the greatest obstacles to their BRI activity, making this the most commonly cited obstacle, closely followed by legal frameworks (61%) and operational difficulties (53%). No other problem came close to this level of concern; the next most commonly cited obstacle, language barriers and cultural issues, was mentioned by only half as many respondents (25%).

Political risk was also cited by 56% of respondents as one of the most serious risks relating to involvement in BRI projects, marginally behind legal and regulatory risk (59%). 

Looking ahead

Despite the inherent obstacles and risks, and different levels of satisfaction reported by MENA and Chinese respondents in regard to BRI project outcomes, BRI opportunities in the MENA region continue to attract interest. Nearly a third (31%) of MENA respondents and more than double that proportion (68%) of Chinese respondents expect to increase their involvement in BRI projects. Almost half (47%) of Chinese respondents also indicated that they are looking to North Africa for BRI opportunities, while 29% are looking to the Middle East. 

David Moore, CMS Infrastructure and Projects partner and UAE Managing Partner, comments: “There remains ample scope for infrastructure development in MENA. According to figures from the World Bank, the region will need to spend 8.2% of GDP to meet its infrastructure goals by 2030, compared with the 3% spent annually over the previous decade. We believe that BRI projects have the potential to close some of that investment gap.”

“With a GDP growth of 2.3% in 2020, China’s economy seems to be weathering the pandemic storm better than many others. This augurs well for the future of BRI and Chinese investment in BRI nations. But, as our report shows, a greater impact may come from China’s pivot towards greener and more sustainable principles for BRI, and an increasing emphasis on the Digital and Health Silk Roads,” adds Moore. 

Amir Kordvani, CMS Dubai partner and Head of the Middle East Projects practice, says: “Chinese investment is growing rapidly in the renewable energy sector in the Middle East. Chinese firms have been able to leverage their expertise as well as state-backed financing (particularly through state-owned enterprises) to materialise targeted and strategic investment in renewable energy programmes in the region and notably in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt, and Jordan.”

About the survey

In the first half of 2020, CMS and global research firm Acuris surveyed 500 senior executives to gauge their views on various aspects of the Belt and Road Initiative. Of the 500 respondents, 75 were either based in Middle East and North Africa or predominantly working on BRI projects in the region and another 100 respondents were from Chinese entities. All respondents were either currently active or planning to participate in BRI projects. Their views were sought on a range of issues around BRI, including likely future involvement and obstacles they have encountered to date.

 TradeArabia News Service



A Global City or One that is Equitable and Sustainable

A Global City or One that is Equitable and Sustainable

Observation of the physical form of Indian cities is the tool employed by Mehrotra to exemplify the clash between two opposing political rhetorics: constructing a global city or one that is equitable and sustainable.

Urban India: negotiating the impatience of global capital

By Rahul Mehrotra

8 February 2021

The contemporary urban condition in India symbolises the two simultaneous transitions at play on the political landscape – moving out of socialism and into capitalism, or from state-controlled imaginations of the city to a free-market production of the built environment. In the occurrence of transitions, which are often at play for decades in India, the built environment is naturally a muddle and the fallout from each condition finds expression in the physical form of the Indian city. Ruptures in the fabric and startlingly bizarre adjacencies characterise the city which evolves with these narratives colliding in urban space. The two narratives, or the political rhetoric, then counterposed against each other are of “building a global city”(in other words, pandering to the impatience of global capital) and developing a city premised on nurturing a civil society that is equitable in terms of access to amenities. Clearly, the former is propelled by impatient capital and articulated as an aspiration by private interests, such as multinational corporations, developers and increasingly the Indian State itself! The latter voice emanates from civil society – the academy, the non-government sector, foundations, institutions, labour unions and all other formations where “capital” acquires patience so as to reside and grow in more inclusive ways.
ADVERTISING

The physical paraphernalia of these opposing city aspirations is also dramatically different. In the former case, the ground has to be prepared to allow capital to land softly and securely. This results in the deployment of a standard tool kit: airports, freeways, five-star hotels, convention centres and subway or elevated rail systems followed by the preservation of historic buildings (to assert a local identity) and a general clean-up of the streetscape. In this configuration the rich retreat into gated communities both in the form of vertical inner-city towers and sprawling suburban compounds on the peripheries. In reality, in both cases they withdraw from the city and the nitty gritty of its everyday life. The architecture that results from this attitude often displays a complete detachment from its surrounding environment as well as from the place and community in which it sits.

A Global City or One that is Equitable and Sustainable

Furthermore, its tectonic quality and materiality is most often unmindful of local resources and building traditions. Such architectural production is usually a quick response to the demand for the large-scale infrastructure projects (e.g. upper-income housing, hospitals, schools, colleges and commercial development) that allow private participation in otherwise largely government-controlled sectors. Most importantly, this form of global architecture thrives on its perceived ability to provide predictable and stable services for impatient capital, searching for a host terrain in which to invest and quickly realise its value. At the same time, the other emerging landscape in India is one that is evolving naturally in a vacuum, the result of a retreating state.

This is a city that has ensued from the state relinquishing the responsibility for projecting an “idea of India” through the built or physical environment. Today, the major state-directed projects are highways, flyovers, airports, telecommunications networks and electricity grids that connect urban territories but they do not help determine or guide their physical structure as masterplans did in the state-directed (Socialist) economy. At the very least, the masterplans sought to create entitlement to housing and proximity to employment. Instead, the “everyday” space has become the place where the economic and cultural struggles of the majority are manifested and the physical shape it adopts is that of a bazaar or informal city! These are the landscapes of the self-help settlements – often referred to as slums – or the peripheries of cities that grow outside the formal state-controlled urban limit. Similarly, the 400-plus small towns in India expected to become cities of close to one million people (and maybe more) in the next two or three decades are actively producing forms of urbanism outside the mainstream discussion on architecture or urban planning.

A Global City or One that is Equitable and Sustainable

This emerging landscape is the image of the Indian urban condition. The processions, weddings, festivals, hawkers, street vendors and slum dwellers all create an ever-transforming streetscape – a city in constant motion where its very physical fabric is characterised by the kinetic elements. This city is not dependent on architecture for its representation. In this “kinetic urbanism”, architecture is not the only “spectacle” upon which society relies to express its aspirations nor does it even comprise the single dominant image of most Indian cities. Quite the opposite, with festivals such as DiwaliDussehraNavratriMuharramDurga PujaGanesh Chaturthi and many more having emerged as the visual and representational spectacles of contemporary India. Their presence on the everyday landscape pervades and dominates the popular visual culture of India’s cities and towns.

Set against this imagination is a new landscape of global derivatives or the images of globalisation. It is an irony – that of the collusion of consciously dysfunctional land markets and exclusionary design and planning at multiple scales that has created this strongly contested fabric of contemporary urban India. Interestingly, in this condition both the rich and poor communities have managed not just to survive but to thrive! However, this reality is constantly challenged by the world-class city idea and slum-free city imagination. The government and financial institutions often drive this via a poorly informed appreciation of Singapore, Dubai and Shanghai – the havens of impatient capital set on autocratic political landscapes: cities where “humans” and especially the poor are not even considered in the imagination of the physical setup they will inhabit. In a democracy, citizens must be placed at the centre of any imagination of the city.

A humane and sustainable city must necessarily be premised on access to a basic infrastructure and patterns of mobility that will determine how the city grows and how people have equitable access to these amenities. In democracies, cities must be judged by how they treat their poor. It is really the choice between these two directions – or attitudes to city building – that will be central to the discussion on the future of urban India: a choice between constructing equitable cities or being bullied by impatient capital.Read also: Cities, increasingly global in the future, are the solution to the pandemic

Rahul Mehrotra (New Delhi, 1959) is the founder/ principal of RMA Architects. He divides his time between working in Mumbai and Boston and teaching at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University where he is the Chair of the Urban Planning and Design Department and the John T. Dunlop Professor in Housing and Urbanization. His most recent book is Working in Mumbai (2020), a reflection on his practice as an architect and urbanist, evolved via association with the city of Bombay/Mumbai.

Opening image: Peter Bialobrzeski, Mumbai 2017, images taken from the book No Buddha in Suburbia, Hartmann Books, 2019 .

This article was originally published in Domus 1054, February 2021.




Sand and dust storm impacts Europe

Sand and dust storm impacts Europe

The World Meteorological Organization informed that Sand and dust storm impacts Europe as it happened for yet another time on 6 February 2021.

8 February 2021

A major intrusion of sand and dust from the Sahara transformed skies and the landscape over Europe on the weekend of 6-7 February, with far-reaching impacts for the environment and health. It once again highlighted the importance of accurate forecasts and warnings of this transboundary hazard.

Sand and dust storm impacts Europe
EU Sentinel2 image of the Pyrénées, covered in sand 8.2.2021

The event was accurately predicted by the Barcelona Dust Forecast Centre, which acts as WMO’s Sand and Dust Storm Warning Advisory and Assessment System’s (SDS-WAS) regional centre for Northern Africa, Middle East and Europe (NAMEE). The system seeks to provide operational forecasting and warning advisory services for various regions of the world in a globally coordinated manner in order to reduce the impacts on the environment, health and economies.

“We knew about the event in advance. The models were really good in predicting the event,” said Sara Basart, at the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, which serves as the operational hub.

The sand and dust storm started on 5 February in northern Algeria, reducing visibility to 800 meters. The dust particles were transported through the atmosphere to southeast Spain and on to southern and central Europe, turning the sky yellow, coating buildings and cars with sand and dust and covering snow on the Pyrenees and Alps mountain ranges with sand. 

On 8 February, the dust intrusion reached the eastern Mediterranean. There was also high dust surface concentration over Africa’s Sahel region, which is one of world’s worst affected regions.

“It is not just a case of having dirty windows or cars. Sand and dust storms cause much wider problems than that,” said Slobodan Nikovic, a member of the Global SDS-WAS Steering Committee and the chair of the regional steering group of the SDS-WAS NAMEE Node.

Sand and dust storms are common meteorological hazards in arid and semi-arid regions. They are usually caused by thunderstorms – or strong pressure gradients associated with cyclones – which increase wind speed over a wide area. 

Sand storm hits Europe 6.2.2021

Over the last decade, scientists have come to realize the impacts on climate, human health, the environment and many socio-econimic sectors. 

WMO Members are at the vanguard in evaluating these impacts and developing products to guide preparedness, adaptation and mitigation policies.  The WMO Sand and Dust Storm Project was initiated in 2004 and its Sand and Dust Storm Warning Advisory and Assessment System (SDS-WAS) was launched in 2007. WMO is also part of a UN coalition to combat sand and dust storms.

More than 20 organizations currently provide daily global or regional dust forecasts in different geographic regions, including 7 global models and more than 15 regional models contributing to SDS-WAS. It integrates research and user communities (e.g., from the health, energy, transport, aeronautical, and agricultural sectors).

Presently, there are three Regional Nodes of SDS-WAS: the Northern Africa-Middle East-Europe Node with its center, hosted by Spain, the Asian Node with its center, hosted by China, and the Pan-American Node with its center, hosted by Barbados and the USA.

Sand and dust storm impacts Europe
Sand storm hits Europe 6.2.2021

“Reaching the last mile is extremely important. We need to pay more attention to the communication of this product,” says Alexander Baklanov, of WMO’s Atmospheric Environment Research division, Science and Innovation department.

WMO is therefore overseeing and monitoring the progress of the implementation of early warnings of sand and dust storms as part of WMO’s multi-hazard early warning system.

The other major challenge is to ensure that the warnings are available in countries most impacted, including in West Africa.

WMO is collaborating with the Spanish national meteorological agency AEMET and the Barcelona Sand and Dust Warning Advisory Center to improve warnings in Burkino Faso, one of the countries hardest hit. With funding from the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems Initiative (CREWS), Burkina Faso has implemented a web page for Sand and Dust Warnings for the country, and will be extended for several other West African countries. AEMET is deploying a network of aerosol Particulate Matter (PM) instruments, which are important for health applications, given the correlation between sand and dust storms and respiratory problems, as well meningitis in the extended meningitis belt which spans 26 countries from Senegal to Ethiopia.



pub-9018797892728621