Widespread abnormal heat hits 290mn across North Africa, Mideast

An Iraqi family stands under the gushing waters at the Baghdad Water City as temperatures soar in Baghdad on June 12, 2024. Photo: AFP

According to a Climate Central analysis, over the span of June 11 to June 13, a staggering 290 million individuals across North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East were met with uncommonly high temperatures as a consequence of climate change.

The study revealed that these elevated temperatures are at least five times more probable due to the impacts of climate change.

Several cities in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Turkmenistan, Algeria, Egypt, Afghanistan, and Greece registered maximum temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

Meanwhile, other regions such as Sofia, Plovdiv, and Burgas in Bulgaria; Benghazi and Misrata in Libya; Rafah in the Gaza Strip; Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in Israel; Athens and Thessaloniki in Greece; as well as Antalya and Izmir in Turkey experienced temperatures ranging between 30 to 38 degrees Celsius.

Temperatures surged 2 to 8 degrees Celsius above seasonal averages in these areas. For instance, Istanbul recorded a peak temperature of 29.2 degrees Celsius on June 11, representing a 4.9-degree increase from the seasonal norm.

In Bursa, temperatures rose to 34.1 degrees Celsius on June 12, standing 8 degrees above the usual seasonal temperature.

In other regions, projections suggest that Basra could reach 46.2 degrees Celsius, Medina 44.4 degrees, Fallujah 43.4 degrees, Baghdad 43.9 degrees, Cairo 41 degrees, and Jerusalem 39.3 degrees—anomalies from the seasonal averages.

The exposure to extreme heat poses various health risks, including heat-related illnesses such as exhaustion and heat stroke, and exacerbates pre-existing conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular ailments, and asthma.

Moreover, the heightened temperatures contribute to an elevated risk of wildfires. Recently, the wildfire season has extended by 20%, causing significant land loss of 9 million hectares in 2021 and 6 million hectares in 2022 globally.