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Decoding the Scorching Summer Heat in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

by Dubaiforum

Decoding the Scorching Summer Heat in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

As the UAE finds itself in the grip of another intense summer, with temperatures soaring close to 50°C, it’s important to understand the factors contributing to this extreme heat. The National Centre of Meteorology has forecasted humidity levels to reach up to 100% in certain parts of the UAE, such as Sweihan, Razeen, and Abu Al Abyad in Abu Dhabi. Even in Abu Dhabi city and Ruwais, humidity levels could peak at 90% and 80% respectively, making the heat feel even more oppressive.

Humidity is essentially a measure of the amount of water vapor present in the air. The higher the moisture content, the higher the humidity. Typically, weather forecasts provide the relative humidity, which is the moisture in the air as a percentage of the maximum amount of water vapor the air can hold. This capacity is dependent on the air temperature.

The reason why high humidity makes hot days feel even hotter is due to the way our bodies react to it. When the weather is hot but the humidity is low, our sweat easily evaporates into the atmosphere, helping us cool down. However, when the humidity is high, the air is already saturated with moisture, which slows down the evaporation of sweat from our skin, causing our bodies to overheat. This is why weather forecasts often provide two figures – the actual temperature and a “feels like” figure that takes humidity into account.

Humidity is caused by water evaporating from large bodies of water. As the temperature rises, so does the rate of evaporation, leading to increased moisture in the atmosphere. This is why coastal areas like Abu Dhabi city and Dubai experience higher humidity levels.

During periods of high humidity, it’s crucial to stay hydrated and avoid outdoor activities as much as possible. Using a dehumidifier at home can also help by reducing the moisture content in the air.

Some meteorologists prefer to use the dew point as a measure of atmospheric water vapor, arguing that it provides a more accurate prediction of human comfort levels compared to relative humidity. The dew point is the temperature at which dew begins to form or condenses into mist or fog. The closer the air temperature is to the dew point, the more humid it will feel.

High humidity is not just uncomfortable; it can also cause problems like mold growth and damage to electronics. Moreover, research suggests that global warming could lead to more frequent and intense heatwaves, potentially pushing the combined measure of heat and humidity, known as the wet bulb temperature (WBT), beyond the limit of human survival. According to a 2015 study, if global carbon emissions continue at current rates, WBTs of more than 35°C could occur every decade or two along much of the Gulf coast after 2070, posing a serious threat to human life.

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