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Dubai Underwater: The Deadly Effects of Climate Change

Mahanoy City, PA

A bike in a flooded area.
Bike in a flooded area

Dubai is commonly referred to as the “City of Gold” because of its breathtaking scenery and modern architecture. Bright lights and nightlife draw tourists to this seemingly perfect place. However, behind the glamor, Dubai has numerous environmental issues that are currently destroying these parts of the city. The most recent issue is severe rain and flooding, which has claimed lives and demolished homes. This unusual weather has led researchers to believe it's the consequence of climate change.

According to BBC News, it’s been reported that more than 24 people lost their lives in Oman and in the United Arab Emirates (UAE, as of April 25, 2024. The flooding submerged hundreds of people in traffic and buildings. There was much social media coverage of water pouring from roofs in malls and homes, as if there were no roofs in the first place. Public transportation was disrupted as streets closed and flights were canceled, leading to a food shortage in Abu Dhabi since deliveries stopped. Volunteers took matters into their own hands, paddling through the streets in kayaks to rescue the stranded and deliver food. A volunteer described the desolate conditions in which he worked: “Here, it’s fully flooded. Buildings have no electricity, no water, and food is not getting delivered to tenants. That’s why I’m helping them.”

According to international researchers, many factors may have caused extreme weather. These researchers have taken both natural and human causes into account, but the main culprit seems to be climate change. Through their analysis, they highlighted that increased ocean temperatures are connected to the downpour. Additionally, the above-normal temperatures cause greater evaporation, which adds more moisture to the atmosphere, leading to more prevalent heavy precipitation more likely. Social media first suspected cloud seeding to be the cause of the intense downpour. Cloud seeding is the process of manipulating existing clouds to help produce more rain. Cloud seeding and rain enhancement procedures have been done in other parts of the world, and in this case, the UAE had begun using it to address droughts and water shortages. However, although previous studies have concluded that cloud seeding can affect precipitation, precipitation to Dubai’s degree is too extreme to be caused by seeding. Therefore, most scientists dismiss cloud seeding as the leading cause. However, it’s difficult to confirm without a more detailed study. Dr. Otto, a senior lecturer in climate science at Imperial College London, states that, “Even if cloud seeding did encourage clouds around Dubai to drop water, the atmosphere would have likely been carrying more water to form clouds in the first place, because of climate change.”

The mass destruction of the city is additionally due to the architecture. Heavy rainfall, or rain in general, is very uncommon in Dubai. The city wasn’t designed to hold itself against such weather. For example, concrete buildings and pavement stop the rain from seeping into the ground and draining effectively. The soil in Dubai is also very dry, which makes it harder for water absorption. The combination of these factors makes the area vulnerable to flooding.

The UAE is now preparing for future extreme weather to avoid further casualties and destruction. There is a call for new strategies for adapting to the rainfall. Things like the roads and infrastructure need to be renewed to withstand the weather, along with the addition of reservoirs to preserve rainwater. The UAE is also setting directives to create plans that respond to environmental crises. However, combating climate change is difficult because it affects the entire world. The warming oceans and droughts disrupt the lives of both animals and humans, creating health risks and food shortages. The flooding in Dubai is just one of hundreds of examples that demonstrate the effects of climate change. But, hopefully, the joint efforts of the researchers and response teams will result in a solution to this problem. 




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