Science & Technology

KAUST Concludes Study on Flash Floods That Hit Gulf States

King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) has completed a recent research study on climate change, its repercussions on the Arabian Gulf region and the causes of flash floods that hit the world.

These flash floods have affected the UAE and Oman, which recorded in one day heavy rainfalls that exceed their average annual rainfall, leading to huge floods and human casualties.

According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the study attributes the flooding causes to a rise in sea level, which threatens all cities, not just coastal ones. The research study’s models project that the maximum annual rainfall will increase 33% by the end of this century due to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

The infrastructure in many regions around the world is not prepared to deal with these extreme climate conditions, as is the case with the Arabian Peninsula, the study finds. So, this will have huge implications on life, in terms of human casualties and economy, through road closures, service disruptions and flight cancellations, among other things.

Hylke Beck, associate professor at KAUST and study co-author, said that the Arabian Gulf region frequently experiences heavy rainfall for short periods, often leading to the formation of flash floods that flow rapidly through valleys towards the sea or ocean.

He added that urbanization, driven by accelerated population growth in this region, has changed the natural water flow pathways, hindering the flow of flood waters efficiently, and hence causing loss of lives, damaging infrastructure and properties, overwhelming sanitation systems and risking disease outbreak.

Saudi Arabia has 574 dams designed to guard against flash floods. And according to Becker, KAUST works to leverage its expertise and research resources in that field to support the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture in its efforts to improve dam management and enhance flash floods early warning systems.

King Abdullah University for Science and Technology has extensive satellite data on the region’s oceans and atmosphere, and its supercomputer lab, one of the top-ranked in the region, offers unmatched capabilities to analyze these data.

Professor Beck and climate scientists at KAUST prepare to issue a new climate report for the UNCCD 16th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP16) in Riyadh, December 2024.

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