Climate change has caused a notable impact on the weather in Israel over the past half a century and can be expected to cause an increase in the number of hot days and nights, alongside a drop in rainfall, the Israel Meteorological Service said in a report published Tuesday.
The service said that for the first time the report “presents a wide-scale analysis of temperature and rainfall trends based on past data from across the country and analysis of regional climate models for the coming decades.”
The average temperature in the country has risen by 1.4 degrees Celsius (2.52 degrees Fahrenheit) from 1950 to 2017 and there has been a drop in the frequency of cold nights over the past 30 years.
“In contrast to the decrease in the number of cold nights, a significant increase in the frequency of hot nights is expected in which the minimum temperature is higher than 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit),” the report found.
By 2050 the temperature is expected to climb by another degree Celsius, or in a worst-case scenario by 1.2 degrees Celsius, unless there is a dramatic reduction in global greenhouse gases, the report warned.
Unless action is taken the trends are expected to continue during the 21st century, by the end of which there would be 40 more “hot nights” a year on average and a 15%-25% drop in rainfall compared to the average for the period of 1961-1990.
Last month internationally renowned climate scientist Prof. James (Jim) Salinger said Israelis should brace themselves for summer heatwave temperatures of 46 degrees Celsius (115°F) by 2050 and up to 50°C (122°F) by 2100, unless governments worldwide meet the challenge of cutting greenhouse gases to slow global warming.
But Salinger noted to The Times of Israel that the widespread use of air conditioners and the country’s ability to desalinate vast quantities of water will help to mitigate the day-to-day effects of searing heat and declining sources of natural water.
The meteorological service report came as the UN Climate Change Conference taking place in Madrid saw the release of a new scientific report saying there is mounting evidence that the world is getting ever hotter.
The report by the UN weather agency found that the current decade is likely to set a new 10-year temperature record.
Preliminary temperature measurements show the years from 2015 to 2019 and from 2010 to 2019 “are, respectively, almost certain to be the warmest five-year period and decade on record,” the World Meteorological Organization said.
“Since the 1980s, each successive decade has been warmer than the last,” the agency said.
While full-year figures aren’t released until next March, 2019 is also expected to be the second or third warmest year since measurements began, with 2016 still holding the all-time temperature record, it said.
This year was hotter than average in most parts of the world, including the Arctic. “In contrast a large area of North America has been colder than the recent average,” the UN said.
The World Meteorological Organization’s annual report, which brings together data from numerous national weather agencies and research organizations, also highlighted the impacts of climate change including declining sea ice and rising sea levels, which reached their highest level this year since high-precision measurements began in 1993.