Opinion | Dubai Flooding Is A Wake-Up Call Against Climate Change

Latest and Breaking News on NDTV

The Middle East, typically known for its arid climate, recently witnessed an unprecedented deluge of rain, particularly in regions like Dubai and Oman. Severe thunderstorms resulted in historic levels of rainfall, causing significant damage and disruptions. Climate change is believed to have contributed to these extreme events.

In Dubai alone, over 142 millimetres of rainfall was recorded within 24 hours, far surpassing the average yearly rainfall of 94.7 millimetres at Dubai International Airport. The heavy rain and storms led to widespread flooding and travel chaos, affecting airports, roads, and public transportation. More than 500 flights were diverted, delayed, or cancelled, prompting warnings to avoid unnecessary travel. Major shopping centres, such as Dubai Mall and the Mall of the Emirates, also suffered flooding.

Extreme Weather Events

Dubai, renowned for its scorching heat and rare rainfall, was caught off guard by these severe thunderstorms. The torrential rain transformed the city's streets into torrents, evoking scenes reminiscent of an apocalyptic event. Flooded metro stations and residents in kayaks became common sights, underscoring the severity of the situation. Meteorologists labelled it the worst thunderstorm in 75 years, leaving Dubai grappling with waterlogged infrastructure and disrupted daily life.

The unexpected deluge highlighted the city's vulnerability to extreme weather events and underscored the importance of robust infrastructure and emergency preparedness in mitigating the impact of such phenomena. As Dubai continues to grow and develop, the need for sustainable urban planning and climate-resilient infrastructure becomes increasingly imperative. This event serves as a stark reminder of the unpredictability of nature and the urgent need for cities to adapt to the changing climate to ensure the safety and well-being of their residents.

Oman, like its neighbouring countries, also faced the wrath of heavy rainfall, resulting in dire consequences for its residents. Students found themselves stranded in buses, while many residents were trapped in their homes as floodwaters surged. The convergence of intense storms and escalated evaporation, attributed to the upward trend in global temperatures, provided ideal conditions for heavy downpour. Climate change likely exacerbated the situation by elevating temperatures, thereby increasing the moisture content in the atmosphere. This, in turn, amplified the intensity, duration, and frequency of the rainfall experienced in the region.

Building Resilience

The aftermath of the heavy rainfall underscores Oman's vulnerability to extreme weather events and highlights the urgent need for proactive measures to enhance resilience and preparedness. As climate change continues to escalate, Oman, along with other nations, must prioritise adaptation of strategies that mitigate the impact of such occurrences. The recent events serve as a sobering reminder of the challenges posed by climate change and the imperative of joint global action to address its far-reaching consequences.

Unprecedented rainfall in desert regions extends beyond Dubai and Oman, with similar events observed globally, from Australia and Greece to the United States. Escalating global temperatures amplify storm intensity, increasing the likelihood of extreme weather occurrences. Notably, Dubai had recently tried cloud-seeding to address water security. The National Centre of Meteorology, however, clarified that during heavy rainfall, no specific clouds were targeted. This raises questions about cloud-seeding's impact, demanding further investigation to understand the interaction between natural conditions and human interventions.

While cloud seeding may have played a role, the complex dynamics of weather systems make it challenging to determine its exact impact. The events underscore the interconnected nature of climate phenomena worldwide. Dubai and Oman's experiences are part of a broader trend of extreme weather occurrences, underscoring the importance of understanding and adaptation. 

As communities worldwide grapple with the challenges of a changing climate, collective action is crucial to foster resilience and sustainability. 

(The author is former Special Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh) 

Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author