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Investigating the Impact of Climate Change on Dust Storms over Kuwait

| February 6, 2017


Dust storms are more frequent in summertime in the Arabian Peninsula, and can be highly influential on the climate and the environment in the region. In this study, the influence of climate change in the Middle East and especially in Kuwait will be investigated by high-resolution (48, 12, and 4 km grid spacing) dynamic downscaling using the WRF (Weather Research & Forecasting) model. The WRF dynamic downscaling will be forced by reanalysis using the National Centers for Environment Prediction (NCEP) model for the years 1997, 2000, and 2008. The downscaling results will be first validated by comparing NCEP model outputs with the observational data. The global climate change dynamic downscaling model will be run using current WRF regional climate model (RCM) simulations (2006–2010) and WRF-RCM climate simulations of the future (2056–2060). They will be used to compare results between the present and the middle of the century. In general, the dominant features from (NCEP) runs are predicted to be consistent with each other, as well as with WRF-RCM results. The influence of climate change in the Middle East and Kuwait can be projected from the differences between the current and model future run. The average temperature showed a positive trend in the future, as in other studies. The temperature was predicted to increase by around 0.5-2.5 °C over the next 50 years. No significant change in mean sea level pressure patterns was projected. However, amongst other things, a change in the trend of the surface wind speeds was indicated during summertime..Climate change is perceived as a significant global and regional issue and hasbecome a significant concern in the Middle East, making it all the more important to investigate (Almazroui, 2012).
The short rainy seasons and the long dry hot summer seasons put more stress on water resources. The matter of increasing or decreasing the summer dust season canmodify the radiation budget between earth and the atmosphere system; the aerosol can affect the incoming radiation by absorbing or scattering, and can change the outgoing terrestrial radiation(Almazroui, 2012).Therefore, this process may lead into changing the radiative balance, the increase of atmospheric albedo candecrease the percentage of radiation reaching the surface, which leads to cooling the surface (Almazroui, 2012).


Since 1985, seawater temperature in Kuwait Bay, northern Persian Gulf, has increased on average 0.6 degrees Celsius per decade(Kulkarni, 2012).This is about three times faster than the global average rate reported by the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Differences are due to regional and local effects. Increased temperatures are having profound effects on key habitats and on power generation in the Persian Gulf (Kulkarni, 2012).
Dust storms have large impacts across the Arabian Peninsula region. Because of the highest recorded frequency of dust, Kuwait is of great interest in the Arabian Peninsula. Dust has a huge impact on maximum temperatures in Kuwait, where it can decrease the 2 m temperature by as much as 5 °C. Dust storms in Kuwait also hasve a huge impacton daily temperatures in summertime. The atmospheric aerosol which mostly consists of dust particles can scatter and absorb radiation, which will affect the radiative impact (Kulkarni, 2012). The scattering and absorption process can alter the incoming and outgoing radiation. Scattering increases the atmospheric albedo, leading to decreasing in surface radiation, resulting in surface cooling (Kulkarni, 2012).
Usually, during dust storm days, the maximum temperature is reduced by 3 to 5 °C in summertime. Global models can illustrate climate change globally, but it is difficult to perform or illustrate regional circulations (Rajendran, 2013).
Therefore, this study will not only attempt to find out the impact of climate change on both the frequency and intensity of dust storms in Kuwait, but it will also analyzethe number and magnitude of dust storms in the future.

Problem Statement

A common synoptic system in the Arabian Peninsula during the summer is the intense pressure gradient, resulting from the Indian monsoon arising east of the Middle East and the East Mediterranean high pressure west of the region. This causes a strong northwesterly wind across the Arabian Peninsula which is known as the Shaman wind(Rajendran, 2013).

Purpose of the Research

The main purpose of this research is to find the impact of climate change on the dust storms in Kuwait. The research aim is to find whether the number and magnitude of dust storms will increase or decrease in the future. Moreover, this research also aims to investigate the changes in the number of dust storm days in future summer seasons.

Research Questions

Considering the aim of this study, the follwing research questions are designed. These research questions are designed to spefically adress the current issues associated with the climate change in Kuwait.
What is the impact of climate change on both the frequency and intensity of dust
storms in Kuwait?
Whether the number and magnitude of dust storms will increase or decrease in the

Significance of the Research

The increasing importance of understanding dust and its role in the Earth’s climate is driving new research and analysis of past data. Dust storms are becoming more frequent in some parts of the world, transporting prodigious quantities of material over very long distances, affecting human health, coral reefs and climate change (Kulkarni, 2012). Being able to predict the production of dust in the future is critical to the climate, environment, and human health. It is very important to investigate whether the number and magnitude of dust storms will increase or decrease in the future, as it will provide an idea of how the Earth’s ecosystem will change.

Literature review

Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula Climate

Much of the summer season in the Arabian Peninsula consists of a period of high diurnal temperature variation and hazy weather. The strong pressure gradient which is usually developed in June and July in the Arabian Peninsula creates a strong wind that results in dust storms (Marcella, The strong Shamal wind tends to ease the temperature in the summer by decreasing the maximum temperature by 5 °C on average due to dust. In other cases, the Shamal wind can be caused by a dry cold front in the Arabian Peninsula, which further reduces the maximum temperature in the area. By mid-July the strong pressure gradient in the area weakens considerably, leading to periods of light northwesterly winds. When there is a lack of a pressure gradient, the Shamal winds become weak, and its direction shifts to easterly to southeasterly in the afternoon due to the sea breeze effect near the coastal area in Kuwait. The thermal low that usually develops over Iraq causes the weak pressure gradient near Kuwait and the eastern region of Saudi Arabia (Rajendran,

Global Climate Modeling

Global climate models (GCMs) have the ability to simulate large scale global circulation for the atmosphere and the ocean. The GCMsare used worldwide by scientist to study different climate variables in different regions to investigate climate change. Global climate models can simulate possible future climates model, and can compute several simulations with various greenhouse gas emissions (Graff &LaCasce, 2012).

Wind Speed

Scientists investigated the changes in mean wind speed globally and in different regions in the past, present, and future. Declining wind speeds in middle and lower latitudes are critical to the prediction of future global wind speed changes (Karnauskas, However, it is significant to understand how climate change can influence wind speed and direction, because they are controlled by atmospheric circulation patterns, which have been indicated by many studies to change globally. In most studies that are based on climate change, results showed that wind speed has changed over the past and will continue to change in future, but it varies between regions and seasons. In the future, some regions may experience an increase in wind speed while some other regions may experience a decrease. Investigating increase or decrease of wind speed regionally will provide a future look in terms of dust storms expansion or shrinking in the Arabian Peninsula (Gillett, 2003).


Changes in extreme temperatures over a long time period were analysed by Yan, (2002). They determined that not only low temperatures have been decreasing and high temperatures have been increasing during the last decades, but also that there have been earlier changes in these extremes. A high increase in temperature took place between 1910 and 1945 and from 1970 to the present, when the temperature increased by 0.16 °C and 0.17 °C per decade, respectively, which is about three times more than the increase during the past century(Yan, This has been a major cause for concerns for public heatlh as fluctuation in the environment temperautre increase global warming. This may increase air pollution, and thus thr risk of air borne diseases.

Regional Climate Modeling

Climate scientists around the world are investigating climate change by using the downscaling model to ensure higher resolution for more enhanced results (Bichet, The higher resolution model or the regional climate model that have been downscaled from the global climate model provide a better picture over complex terrain, land-water contrast, regional variations in land use, and regional circulation (Catalano & Moeng, 2010). The regional climate model is becoming the tool of preference in their research. Regional climate model simulations for regions similar to the Arabian Peninsula are few.Focusing on the eastern region where Kuwait is located, the model simulation shows a decrease in surface wind speed in both scenarios. Wind speeds are the main cause for dust storms in the region, so a decrease of wind speed in the future should lead to a decrease in dust storms in Kuwait and the Arabian Peninsula (Chu,


Research Design

The research design in this research shall be based on the secondary data and this is the reason that the following research study is based on qualitative eesearch design and therefore, the proposed study will be exploratory in nature. Data are to be collected and information wwill be gathered by using a number of secondary sources, such as the media, publications and literature. By considering goals of the present study, Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) will be analyzed as a modelin order to find the impact of climate change on both the frequency and intensity of dust storms in Kuwait and whether the number and magnitude of dust storms will increase or decrease in the future.As a sample size, GCM will be used to provide lateral forcing for WRF runs for two five-year time periods in which first five years run will be in 2006-2010 and second five years run will be in 2056-2060.The purpose is to investigate the frequency of dust storms comparing the present simulations with future simulations. Since the WRF does not simulate dust storms directly, the research will focus on identifying regional conditions conducive to dust storms and analyze the change in frequency of these synoptic conditions under a selected climate scenario.

Ethical Considerations

Ethical considerations will be prioritised to first place during this research and all the primary and secondary sources of data will be collected in accordance with the privacy policies. The research analysis and findings will be incorporated at the end and they will be entirely based on the observation of the researcher, and the analyis of data will be made.


The main of this project is to investigate the effect of climate changes in dust storms in Kuwait. These aims were targeded with the view to creating an awarness in regards to possible detrimental effects that can be induced by such changes. It is predicted that knowing the effectsof such changes will also help to predict whether the number and magnitude of dust storms will increase or decrease in the future. Since dust storms frequently hit Kuwait, it may affect human health and coral reefs, as well as have direct association with climate change in Kuwait. Wind speeds are the main cause for dust storms in the region, so a decrease of wind speed in the future should lead to a decrease in dust storms in Kuwait and the Arabian Peninsula (Chu,


Almazroui, M., M.N. Islam, and H. Athar, 2012: Recent climate change in the Arabian Peninsula: annual rainfall and temperature analysis of Saudi Arabia for 1978-2009, International Journal of Climatology, vol. 32, pp. 953-966.

Bichet, A., M. Wild, D. Folini, and C. Schär, 2012: Causes for decadal variations of wind speed over land: Sensitivity. Geophysical Research Letters, vol.39, no. 11, pp.1107-1111.

Catalano, F. and C.H. Moeng, 2010: Large-eddy simulation of the daytime boundary layer in an idealized valley using the Weather Research and Forecasting numerical model. Bound.-Layer Meteor, vol. 137, pp. 49–75.

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