What makes Baghdad so special
From a global perspective, June was the hottest month since weather records began and the 14th month with record temperatures in a row. What in Germany means tropical summer nights and daily highs above 30 degrees Celsius makes life in the Arab world unbearable in some places: In Baghdad, the thermometers on Thursday showed 50 degrees in the shade, even at night it no longer cools below 32 degrees . In other parts of Iraq up to 53 degrees were registered. That is not far from the 56.7 degrees, which is considered the highest value ever recorded - measured in the Valley of Death in California.
In Baghdad, a city in which the electricity and thus the air conditioning regularly fail, many residents look for refreshment with a bath in the Tigris. You cool off with water hoses and doze as motionless as possible towards the sunset, which promises relief. In the more affluent neighborhoods, the generators are buzzing, nobody goes outside. The government sent its employees home on Wednesday and extended the weekend by two days. A heat wave hit the region last summer; Tens of thousands demonstrated against the government in Baghdad, and protests are loud again now. Many Iraqis have to pay bribes in order to have electricity and water.
In the medium to long term, scientists fear, entire stretches of land in the Persian Gulf, the Middle East and North Africa could become uninhabitable for humans. The region with its more than 500 million inhabitants is particularly hard hit by climate change. While the winters in Europe are getting warmer, temperatures rise between Morocco and Iran in the already hot summers, as a study by the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz and the Cyprus Institute in Nicosia has shown. To do this, the researchers evaluated forecasts from 26 models.
While there was an average of 16 very hot days per year between 1986 and 2005, it should be 80 by the middle of the century - even if the two-degree target to limit global warming agreed at the Paris climate summit is met. Temperatures like now in Baghdad would become normal, heat waves would occur ten times more frequently than today.
The rise in temperature is particularly problematic on the Gulf Coast, where the shamal blows from the sea in summer. In addition to the heat, there is a high level of humidity there - the perceived temperature has already risen to values of around 70 degrees, and staying outdoors for a long time is dangerous even for healthy adults. The fateful interaction can be scientifically expressed in the so-called wet bulb temperature, a measure of the sultriness. 35 degrees is the limit here, and in the long term it will be exceeded in metropolises such as Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha or Bandar Abbas in Iran, according to a study by two scientists doing research in the USA. Even the best air conditioning systems could then no longer be enough to make life there bearable in the long term.
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