Muscat: Northern towns and cities in Oman, such as Sohar, Seeb, Sur and Khasab have experienced the highest temperature rises in the country owing to global warming, an Omani researcher has said.
Yaseen Abdulrahman Al Sharaabi, the director of the Centre for Environmental Studies and Research at Sultan Qaboos University, added that the weakest impact in the country, due to global warming, was felt along the southern coastal region.
“The country’s climate has witnessed obvious changes over the past three decades, which is consistent with the conclusions of recent studies of the Arabian Peninsula and the neighbouring regions,” he said. “Between 1980 and 2013, meteorological stations throughout Oman showed evidence of warming.”
“The average annual temperatures have increased by about 0.4 degrees per decade,” added Al Sharaabi.
“This increase shows great variation across the country ranging from 0.1°C per decade around Salalah to about 1.1°C per decade for every decade all over Sur. There is also clear evidence that the highest temperatures in the Sultanate - the maximum and minimum - have increased over the past decades.”
Statistical studies show that the change in the average maximum temperature ranges from -0.6°C per decade around Sohar to about 1.2°C per decade, in the surroundings of Khasab.
The same studies also show that the change in the annual minimum temperature ranges from 0.2°C per decade around Seeq to about 1.7°C per decade in the vicinity of Sur.
In general, the average minimum temperature increased in all the governorates by about 0.5°C per decade.
There are also other noticeable trends that include a clear rise in the maximum temperature at night in all parts of the country, while the cases of high temperatures during the day were clearer in the north of the Sultanate.
Precipitation patterns have changed during the past three decades, but changes were much less severe than the changes in temperature. There is a large variation in rainfall from year to year and it witnessed high fluctuations during the ‘80s and ‘90s. Finally, rainfall, in general, witnessed a decrease between 1980 and 2013.
Al Sharaabi indicated, “The country’s future climate will be significantly different from its historical patterns. By the middle of the 21st century, annual averages of maximum temperatures overall will experience a significant increase regardless of the future climate pathway used. In the best case, maximum temperatures are expected to rise by at least 2°C along the southern coastal regions.”
“The worst case forecasts indicate an increase in maximum temperatures by 4°C in the interior and northern governorates, including Musandam,” he added. “It is expected that the eastern and south eastern coastal regions will witness the least change in the expected maximum temperatures. The maps also show that the maximum temperature will increase from the coastal eastern regions to the interior western regions throughout the country and across all representative concentration pathways.
He continued: “So, towards the end of the 21st century, annual maximum temperatures will continue to change dramatically. In the worst-case maximum temperatures are expected to increase by 1°C compared to their mid-21st century counterparts, exceeding historical levels by up to 5°C, for all the interior regions of Oman, as well as some coastal areas in the northern parts of the Sea of Oman and the western parts of the Arabian Sea.”
According to best-case scenarios, it is not expected that the maximum temperatures will increase in the late 21st century in most regions of the country. Rather, it is expected that some areas in Al Hajar Mountains, far north and near Ramlet Umm Al Hait in the western Dhofar Governorate will witness a decrease in temperatures of up to 0.5 degrees Celsius.
By the middle of the 21st century, annual averages of minimum temperatures overall will experience a significant increase regardless of the future climate pathway used, and in the best-case scenario, a minimum temperature increase of at least 2°C is projected for all southern coastal regions along the Arabian Sea, as well as the southern border of the Sea of Oman.
In a worst-case scenario, minimum temperatures are expected to rise by 1.5°C compared to mid-21st century levels - or a total of 5.5°C above the historical levels - in the northernmost regions of the Hajar Mountains. Most regions of the Sultanate will have an increase in minimum temperatures ranging between 0.5 and 1°C above the levels recorded for the middle of the 21st century.
In the best cases, the minimum temperatures are expected to decrease from the middle of the 21st century to the end of the 21st century for most regions of the Sultanate. It is even expected that some regions in the interior parts of the Sultanate will witness a decrease in the minimum temperature of up to 1.5°C.
“The change in the average annual precipitation shows different results in light of the expected climatic changes. In a best-case scenario, the change in annual precipitation is projected to be between 0 and 10 mm per year in most regions. In the worst case, average annual precipitation will decrease by up to 10 mm/year in most areas. Only areas near the southwestern and eastern coasts experience an additional 0 to 10 mm/yr change,” Prof Al Sharaabi stated.
By the late 21st century, average annual rainfall will have changed significantly across the country. Under the best-case scenario, average annual precipitation is expected to decrease at a rate of up to 10 mm per year in the interior regions, south of the Hajar Mountains, while the average annual precipitation remains the same as it was in the middle of the 21st century or a slight increase in the Hajar Mountains region.
As for the worst case, the average annual precipitation in most areas will decrease by up to 10 mm per year, compared to the levels of the middle of the 21st century, but in specific parts of the Dhofar Governorate, the average annual rainfall remains the same as it was in the middle of the 21st century. The average annual rainfall will remain the same as it was in the middle of the century.