It is attended by delegates from 196 countries, about 500 representatives of the European Union, civil societies, and academia.
At the plenary session, the Chairperson of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis Tanzila Narbayeva read out the address from President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev to the event participants.
As noted in the address, Uzbekistan and the entire Central Asian region are fully aware of the negative consequences of climate change in the form of social and environmental problems.
“Today, we are almost alone fighting the devastating consequences of the global catastrophe of the Aral Sea, which is disappearing before the eyes of one generation. All these threats and many other factors directly affect the well-being and health of the population not only in our region, but throughout the world, which requires even greater consolidation and strengthening of partnerships to achieve the key Sustainable Development Goals.
I count on the strong support of the international expert community for Uzbekistan’s initiative to adopt the Samarkand Declaration on Sand and Dust Storms following the current session”, said Shavkat Mirziyoyev in his welcoming address.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres also sent a message to the forum participants. It was read out by the UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UNCCD Ibrahim Thiaw.
The UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UNCCD Ibrahim Thiaw, the Minister of Ecology, Environmental Protection and Climate Change of the Republic of Uzbekistan Aziz Abdukhakimov, and representatives of various regions addressed the plenary session.
In the afternoon, the session continued its work in several directions. During these events, the implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification was reviewed. The international forum continues.
The above-featured image is for illustration and is to Credit: Sahara Forest Project
Long-term satellite data shows a significant cooling effect of vegetation on land surface temperature.
The searing heat of the Arabian Peninsula translates to a population vulnerable to heat stress. As temperatures continue to rise, effective strategies are urgently needed to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change in the region.
A promising approach is the greening of dry areas, which has been shown to modify the surface climate in several regions. Monitoring the impact of vegetation on surface temperature is important, as KAUST climatologist Matteo Zampieri explains.
“As vegetation absorbs more solar energy compared to the desert, it reduces the reflectivity (albedo) of the land surface. This in turn increases the temperature of the land surface in water limited areas. So, the balance between increased evapotranspiration and reduced albedo compared to the bare soil determines the outcome of greening efforts,” he says.
“The outcomes may vary, based on the availability of water for plants as well as specific physiological processes of drought adapted plant species. While some instances of desert greening may lead to surface cooling, others can actually result in surface warming,” Zampieri warns.
To investigate the effects of managed vegetation, the researchers used satellite data to compare the surface temperature differences between planted areas and bare soil at five sites representing Saudi Arabia’s main agricultural regions. They also used a site at Al-Qirw with a mix of vegetation maintained by pivot irrigation. They analyzed the data at Al-Qirw, where temperature differences between vegetated and bare soil are not influenced by differences in elevation.
The satellite data were used to generate statistics on a daily basis, which showed the changes in average temperature over green areas and the effect of vegetation on temperature variability.
A normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) was used as an indicator of the presence and vigor of vegetation and the land surface temperature (LST) during day and night was used to estimate the effects of vegetation on the surface climate.
At Al-Qirw, the annual mean LST differed considerably between the planted areas and bare soil. Between 2010 and 2017, the daytime LST was about 4 degrees Celsius cooler inside the area covered by vegetation compared to the surrounding bare soil.
On hotter days, vegetation provides an extra cooling effect. These results corresponded with an increase in the NDVI in the vegetated area. After 2017, the NDVI suddenly decreased and the cooling effect in Al-Qirw vanished, possibly related to water management sustainability.
Leader of the research team KAUST’s Ibrahim Hoteit says the study supports other evidence that establishing vegetation and effective water management practices mitigates high temperatures in arid regions.
“Our study shows that managed vegetation plays a crucial role in mitigating the impacts of climate change, especially heat waves,” he says.
“However, it also highlights the importance of sustainability factors because the collapse of vegetation can diminish the cooling effect and accelerate local warming trends,” he warns.
Zampieri, M., Alkama, R., Luong, T., Ashok, K. & Hoteit, I. Managing vegetation for stronger cooling efficiency during hot days in the Arabian Peninsula. Ecological Indicators154, 110789 (2023).| article.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matteo Zampieri, Senior Researcher
In Ibrahim Hoteit‘s Red Sea Modeling and Prediction Group, Matteo is a principal investigator at the Climate Change Center (CCC) of KAUST where he coordinates the development of the sub-seasonal and seasonal forecasting systems and the investigations related to the Saudi and Middle East Green Initiatives.
Arid climates, deforestation, and urbanisation have each aggravated the risk of wildfires in the MENA region. Countries have scrambled to find strategies to mitigate this, however, without resources, they remain at the mercy of the climate crisis.
Researchers said that July 2023 would be the hottest month on Earth in history. According to the World Meteorological Organization, the global average temperature for July was 16.95 °C, exceeding the previous record set in 2019 by a third of a degree Celsius.
In the Arab region, temperatures soared to unprecedented levels with Egypt and Algeria experiencing temperatures exceeding 45 °C, while some cities in Iraq recorded temperatures close to boiling point.
The world has experienced intense heatwaves in the past six weeks, which led to numerous forest fires in various countries, including those in the Middle East and North Africa region. Countries such as Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon have suffered casualties and significant losses in vegetation and animal life due to these fires.
“Drought is a perfect condition for fires. It is not the only reason for wildfires in the MENA region however as human activities such as deforestation and burning rubbish or agricultural waste close to the forest also cause wildfires”
The eastern Mediterranean countries of Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, and Palestine, as well as the northwest African countries of Algeria and Morocco, are among the most vulnerable to wildfires in the MENA region.
It is anticipated that heatwaves can have negative effects on wildfires in the MENA region. A simple explanation is that vegetation can dry out during unusual heat events, making it more flammable. Excessive evaporation of soil moisture during these prolonged heat events also stresses vegetation and makes it more prone to fire, according to Ahmed Kenawy, professor of climatology at Mansoura University, Egypt.
Ahmed told The New Arab that some of the common plant species in the region’s drier areas, particularly those that have adapted to the dry climate, contain oils and resins that can be very combustible, especially during heat waves. However, depending on the prevailing weather conditions, these effects can vary greatly from one region to another.
Professor Ahmed Kenawy also pointed out that increased humidity during these heat events may reduce the likelihood of wildfires in coastal areas.
Lower humidity accelerates the drying process of vegetation and decreases the moisture level of lifeless organic matter, such as leaves, twigs, and grass, which makes them more prone to burning in interior regions. In certain parts of North Africa, like Egypt, local hot winds, such as the Khamisin, can rapidly spread wildfires, particularly in late spring.
Hesham Eissa, an environmental expert, told The New Arab that winds can rapidly spread wildfires, making them difficult to contain and control.
Also, human activities in the extreme heat during heatwaves may lead to increased use of fire-related activities, such as outdoor cooking or burning waste, which can inadvertently spark wildfires.
Hesham explained that climate change is also affecting wildfires by releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, further exacerbating global warming. “This, in turn, can lead to more frequent and intense heat waves, creating a vicious cycle that increases the risk of wildfires in the region.”
Morocco is one of the countries in the region most affected by forest fires, and the authorities used Canadair (amphibious) planes to extinguish the fires while evacuating the residents of the areas near this forest. The temperature was recorded at 50.4 degrees Celsius in the city of Agadir, in the centre of the country.
At the end of last July, the National Agency for Water and Forests in Morocco announced that the number of fires registered from the beginning of January to the date of July 24, 2023, amounted to 222, in which the fires swept 10,000 square meters. Forests cover 12 percent of the country.
Since the start of this summer, numerous fires have erupted in various regions of Algeria, with the most intense one hitting the northeast of the country, causing the death of 34 individuals, including ten soldiers, in late July. Additionally, the Algerian authorities have disclosed that the fires that affected multiple states last month resulted in the damage of 11,500 people, 972 buildings, and 24,000 hectares of land.
In Libya, the National Center of Meteorology announced last week that temperatures had risen, touching 49 degrees Celsius in some internal areas. At the same time, fires continued to break out, causing no deaths or injuries, but palm trees were damaged in different parts of the country.
The same dangers extended to Tunisia, which witnessed the outbreak of seven fires that spread to some populated areas as well as the destruction of large areas of agricultural crops close to the Gall ranges. Fires of varying size and strength also broke out in Lebanon and Palestine.
In Syria, the high temperatures caused fires to break out in agricultural and forested areas, especially on the Syrian coast, which witnessed widespread damage. The largest fires were in the countryside of Latakia Governorate, which lasted for five consecutive days in the coastal forest areas and required the intervention of Russian helicopters, along with Syrian ones, to extinguish them.
Professor Ahmed Kenawy believes that wildfires are common in these countries because of the typical Mediterranean climate: wet winters and dry, hot summers. “Symbolic cedar trees, for instance, are a common target of forest fires in Lebanon. The 2010 Carmel forest fire in Palestine was one of the deadliest in the country’s history. Importantly, the high rates of urbanization in these countries, especially in close proximity to forested areas, raise the danger of forest fires, especially those started by humans.”
Mitigation is a must
Theresa Wong, a geographer and Climate Change Officer in the FAO Regional Office for the Near East and North Africa, said that the region is highly vulnerable to climate change and that the climate is expected to be hotter and drier in the future. “Drought is a perfect condition for fires. It is not the only reason for wildfires in the region however as human activities such as deforestation and burning rubbish or agricultural waste close to the forest also cause wildfires.”
She explained to The New Arab that wildfires have significant environmental impacts, affecting various ecosystems and natural processes. Some of the major environmental impacts of wildfires include loss of biodiversity, soil degradation, maintaining the water cycle, and air pollution. It also makes the livelihoods of people who rely on these forests difficult.
Wong mentioned that the FAO supported the creation of a regional network on forests and wildland fires (Near East Network on Wildlands Forest Fire, NENFIRE). “We supported countries to have a fire management plan, such as Morocco, Lebanon, and Algeria. It is important for countries to include fire mitigation processes in their national strategies to combat climate change.”
Nevertheless, Ahmed Kenawy said that implementing cutting-edge monitoring systems that make use of satellite technology, drones, and ground sensors to spot potential fire spots is one possible form of early warning. “In addition, it is crucial to encourage international partnerships that pool knowledge, skills, and labour.”
The professor of climatology affirmed that since wildfires know no international boundaries, fighting them may be more effective if done at the regional level. “In the affected regions, it is also crucial to establish buffer zones between wilderness and populated areas. Community participation in fire prevention efforts is also encouraged through volunteer fire departments.
Mohammed El-Said is the Science Editor at Daily News Egypt. His work has appeared in Science Magazine, Nature Middle East, Scientific American Arabic Edition, SciDev and other prominent regional and international media outlets. Follow on Twitter: @MOHAMMED2SAID
Saudi Arabia is now harnessing AI to combat desertification
The above-featured image is for illustration and is credit to BNN.
As desertification poses a significant challenge in the country due to its arid climate and climate change effects, AI-driven analysis of satellite imagery and data will pinpoint areas most susceptible to desertification. Remote sensing technologies will monitor vegetation, rainfall, and plant health changes over time.
The Saudi Ministry of Environment has initiated a program that utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to combat desertification. This collaboration involving the ministry, the National Center for Vegetation Development and Combating Desertification, and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology intends to assess vegetative cover within Saudi Arabia.
The program aligns with afforestation projects and the “Green Saudi” initiative. As desertification poses a significant challenge in the country due to its arid climate and climate change effects, AI-driven analysis of satellite imagery and data will pinpoint areas most susceptible to desertification.
Remote sensing technologies will monitor vegetation, rainfall, and plant health changes over time.
Strategies to counter desertification, including tree and shrub planting, water management enhancements, and sustainable agriculture promotion, will be developed.
This AI-powered program represents a crucial step towards Saudi Arabia’s desertification mitigation and sustainability goals. By utilizing advanced technologies, the nation aims to safeguard its natural resources and construct a more sustainable future.
Saudi Arabia is concurrently executing various initiatives against desertification, such as the ambitious “Green Saudi” project, focused on planting 10 billion trees nationwide, and the “National Center for Vegetation Development and Combating Desertification,” dedicated to cultivating drought-resistant plants and refining water management techniques.
A total of 77 initiatives are in motion under the Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) to attain three pivotal targets and effect positive, enduring change. This comprehensive approach encompasses afforestation, biodiversity preservation, emissions reduction, and establishment of new protected areas.
As part of the SGI, Saudi Arabia is translating its vision of a greener future into action, investing in sustainable development.
The forthcoming SGI Forum, scheduled for October 23-24 in Riyadh, represents a landmark event in Saudi Arabia’s endeavour to transition from an oil-based economy to a cleaner, more sustainable one.
The SGI aims to plant 10 billion trees, encompassing 30% of the total land area, create expansive protected zones, conserve coastal marine life, and encourage alternative agriculture. Technology will play a pivotal role in facilitating Saudi Arabia’s transformation into a greener nation.
With its diverse landscapes encompassing forests, pastures, coastlines, and islands across around 2 million square kilometres, Saudi Arabia is harnessing AI and remote sensing to streamline the study and monitoring of its environment.
It’s not often that the UK feels as hot as the central Sahara, but there were certainly a few days in the summer of 2022 when that was the case. Such heat waves can occur when the Sahara arrives on our doorstep on the back of unusual winds. How do these events work and what can we expect from them in the future?
Heat waves are made in several ways, starting with intense sunshine. But as the early weeks of the summer of 2023 in the UK have shown, you can have noticeably cool air and bright, near-peak summer sunshine at the same time.
What really raises the temperature is the importing of heat from somewhere else. That process is often very efficiently carried out by the wind and that somewhere is the Sahara, when a southerly wind blows for long enough. We have come to call these events African plumes, or sometimes Iberian plumes as you may have heard them described in recent weather forecasts. They only visit the UK a few times a year.
Where plumes come from
African plumes are characterised by a hazy atmosphere laden with dust from the Sahara – the biggest source of that material anywhere on the planet come the summer months in the northern hemisphere.
Very large particles of dust are raised from the desert surface by gusts blowing over hundreds of kilometres, produced by the outflow of energy from thunderstorms. The big bonus following the arrival of this air in the UK is very colourful sunsets, as the setting rays are scattered by the dust, leaving only the red colours of the more elusive longer wavelengths of light for us to see.
While the process of importing heat from afar might sound exotic, it isn’t really. That is exactly what the weather is geared to do. Every day the Earth’s atmosphere has to respond to a never-ending problem of being inundated by an unfathomable amount of energy from the sun and to make things interesting, that energy is unevenly distributed so that some regions, such as the tropics and subtropics receive lots and other regions, notably the high latitudes and polar regions, very little.
Outside the tropics, the number one method for sorting out that discrepancy in energy is to move heat in the winds. In the northern hemisphere, winds from the south are warm and those from the north cool. A constant supply of cool northerly wind has been a key reason why decent June sunshine hasn’t raised temperatures just yet this summer. By crossing latitudes, cool winds going south and warm winds going north help to even up the problem of uneven heating from the sun.
At the latitudes of the UK, weather systems transport more than 3 petawatts of heat polewards. That is about 300 times the installed electricity generation capacity worldwide. If the climate system is so good at carrying out this heat transport, what is it that makes the African plume events infrequent?
First, to line up a wind which blows all the way from the Sahara to the UK takes a special configuration of pressure systems. No one low or high pressure system is quite big enough to do this on its own. And second, that configuration has to stay in place for at least three days because the wind has to travel the better part of 3,000 km.
Assuming those things are to hand, the UK can experience Sahara-like conditions. Of course, the temperature of the wind will be modified as it makes its journey, in this case, cooling slightly the further it gets from the furnace of the Sahara. But that cooling process is much less efficient than you might think. Air retains the conditions at its origin quite stubbornly, and crossing the hot Iberian Peninsula as African plumes have often done in the past – a part of the world which is warming steeply as a result of climate change – doesn’t help.
What the future has in store
Will warming in the UK in future decades result in more African plumes? Well, here’s the surprise. Meticulous work by the Met Office which involved slicing up British weather into 30 different types showed that three out of four of the patterns which can generate southerly winds from the overheated Sahara are actually projected to become less frequent in future, and only one (a southerly wind driven by a high pressure system over Scandinavia) is expected to increase.
Likewise, the persistence or longevity of those weather patterns (and remember, to get the Saharan heat to the UK requires it persisting for three days or more) decreases for three out of four patterns, again only increasing in the case of the Scandinavian high. Meanwhile, there are also weather patterns which can transport heat from central Europe to the UK. And the Met Office work shows that these patterns are set to increase in frequency in the future – and also extend into the autumn months.
Dry soils over Europe reinforce the heat-making pressure pattern. Sunshine warms a dry surface much more readily than a wet one. So Europe is a source of intense heat for Britain too, with temperatures not far off those of the Sahara.
This plume of heat forecast for early June is a good example. We might lose those striking sunsets made of Saharan dust, but the heat is here to stay.
https://www.myglobalviewpoint.com/most-beautiful-places-in-algeria/ 12 MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES IN ALGERIA TO VISIT October 1, 2023 Are you thinking about visiting Algeria someday? Here are some of the most beautiful places to visit in Algeria. Prepare to be mesmerized by these captivating sights and destinations. Algeria, the vast expanse of beauty in North Africa, remains one of the world’s best-kept […]
Earth has been used as a building material for at least the last 12,000 years. Ethnographic research into earth being used as an element of Aboriginal architecture in Australia suggests its use probably goes back much further.
This site uses functional cookies and external scripts to improve your experience.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.