[SANA'A] The Arab world must move quickly to carry out its own research to avert the worst effects of climate change on the region, a report has warned.
The report, released last month (24 November) by the Lebanon-based Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) criticised the near complete lack of research data on climate change in Arab countries.
Arab nations must immediately draw up adaptation and mitigation plans, it said, pointing out that the World Bank puts it among the worst-hit regions of the world.
Mohammed El-Raey, professor of environmental physics at the University of Alexandria, Egypt, and author of a chapter of the report, agreed there are little data for climatologists to work with.
"There is a severe shortage of high resolution topographic maps and geographical data of many coastal cities.We have no data about the effects the greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere will have on our coastal zones, even though we know they are very vulnerable," he said, adding that this makes creating plans to reduce risks from climate change difficult.
El-Raey said the solution was to build up institutional research capacity and create an Arab database of all data collected from the region. The Arab Academy of Science, Technology, and Maritime Transport — which is funded by the Arab League of Nations — has already begun this work, he said.
The report published the results of a satellite data study carried out by the US-based Boston University's Center for Remote Sensing which predicted that a one metre increase in sea levels could displace at least 37 million people in coastal areas.
It also found that Egypt would be worst hit by climate change because of a combination of agricultural and tourism losses and impacts on human health.
Vast areas of agricultural land between Egypt and Iraq are also expected to lose fertility, stressing food production and aggravating water problems.
"I hope that the United Arab Emirates' first remote sensing satellite (DubaiSat-1) will help gather the information and data needed to help Arab researchers studying climate change," engineer Khalil Konsul, president of the Jordanian Astronomical Society, told SciDev.Net.
DubaiSat-1 was launched in July This year (see UAE anticipates lift-off for first satellite).