King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
Our overarching objective is to characterize and attribute how several decades of landscape-scale efforts to promote agriculture in Arabian deserts and of explosive urban growth in Arabian coastal cities have shaped the region’s physical climate and, in turn, contributed to elevated heat stress for vulnerable populations. Through a combination of multiple-platform remote sensing analysis, regional climate modeling, and epidemiological analysis, we will identify "hotspots" where current humid heat-stress risks are amplified due to LCLUC. This integrated approach will include separating increases in hot-humid heat stress due to specific LCLUC processes – namely, urbanization and agriculture expansion – from regional warming due to climate change. We will achieve these results by executing four primary research objectives:
1. Map urban and agricultural LCLUC: Using data from multiple remote-sensing (RS) platforms, we will compile and/or expand high-resolution maps of present-day building sizes, neighborhood-scale changes since 2000, and present-day vegetation extent and type.
2. Assess effects of LCLUC on extreme humid heat: We will combine building and vegetation information with in-situ climate observations and RS data using a regional climate model to characterize with unprecedented spatiotemporal precision the interactions between LCLUC and the meteorological forcings that drive extreme-humid-heat events. We will focus on the Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman metropolitan area in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and on expanses of large-scale agriculture in the eastern Saudi Arabian and southern UAE deserts.
3. Characterize the sociodemographic of exposure to humid heat and vulnerability to heat stress and attribute the associated health burden to LCLUC: We will build upon the findings from Objective 1 and Objective 2, applying a health-impact-assessment approach, to quantify deaths and hospitalizations attributable to extreme heat. Health- outcome data collected by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and other national and provincial-level authorities, combined with previous empirical exposure-response relationships, will allow us to estimate negative health outcomes according to location and occupation category.
4. Quantify the effects of potential future LCLUC interventions on heat stress, water stress, and dust storms: We will apply the findings from Objective 2 and Objective 3 to quantify how planned projects or development policies may modify several climate risks over the 2020-2050 period, beyond the effect expected from climate change alone. Several LCLUC potential futures will be explored following a storylines approach, and their consequences followed through for heat stress, and for two other important risks to the region: water scarcity and dust-storm occurrence.
Project Research Area:
LCLUC is a NASA program.
Responsible official: Garik Gutman
Website coordination: Meghavi Prashnani