Dubai & Abu Dhabi: Heat and Humidity in the UAE Explained

As the UAE experiences rising temperatures, outdoor terraces are closing down, and residents will soon be unable to use their balconies due to the scorching heat. The National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) has issued a warning, stating that parts of the UAE could experience up to 100 percent humidity .

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UAE Braces for Sweltering Summer: Temperature Soars Again

Specific locations like Sweihan, Razeen, and Abu Al Abyad in Abu Dhabi are particularly prone to reaching maximum humidity levels. Furthermore, Abu Dhabi city might see humidity levels peaking at 90 percent, while Ruwais could experience 80 percent humidity, creating an uncomfortably sticky situation for residents.

Mercury Set to Rise: Another Scorching Summer in the UAE

The UAE is preparing for another scorching summer, with temperatures expected to approach nearly 50°C this week. According to the latest five-day bulletin from the NCM, Abu Dhabi and Dubai will experience temperatures in the mid to late 40s for the majority of the week. The capital, Abu Dhabi, will witness temperatures peaking at 48°C on Sunday, while Al Ain is expected to reach 47°C on Wednesday. Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai will see temperatures surpassing 40°C. The soaring temperatures are part of a global trend, as Monday recently marked the hottest day on record worldwide. Scientists caution that the world is falling short of emissions reduction goals, contributing to rising temperatures.

The Impact of Humidity: Exploring the Science and Measurement

In the UAE, high humidity exacerbates the heat, making the hot days feel even more intense. But what exactly is humidity, and how does it affect our comfort? Humidity measures the amount of water vapor present in the air. The higher the moisture content, the higher the humidity. Weather forecasts typically provide relative humidity, representing the moisture in the air as a percentage of the maximum water vapor capacity at that temperature. Our perception of temperature can vary even when the actual temperature remains the same due to humidity. When humidity is low, our bodies can cool down through evaporation of sweat. In contrast, high humidity impedes sweat evaporation, causing our bodies to overheat.

Understanding Humidity and Its Causes

Humidity arises from the evaporation of water from large bodies, such as the sea. As temperatures rise, the oceans warm, leading to increased moisture evaporating into the atmosphere. This phenomenon explains why coastal areas like Abu Dhabi city and Dubai often experience higher humidity levels.

Coping with High Humidity

During periods of high humidity, it is crucial to stay well-hydrated. If possible, limit outdoor activities, and individuals engaging in outdoor exercises should be particularly cautious about the risks of heatstroke. At home, using a dehumidifier can help extract moisture from the air, improving comfort levels.

The Dew Point vs. Relative Humidity

Meteorologists often use the dew point as an alternative measure to gauge the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. Many argue that the dew point provides a more accurate indication of how uncomfortable humans may feel compared to relative humidity. Warmer air has a greater capacity to hold moisture than cooler air. The dew point represents the temperature at which dew starts to form or condenses into mist or fog. When the dew point and air temperature are closer, it feels more humid, whereas a larger gap between them indicates a more comfortable environment.

Challenges and Misconceptions Associated with Humidity

Critics of relative humidity contend that it can be misleading because it does not reveal the total amount of moisture in the air, which varies with temperature. For instance, 70 percent relative humidity may seem high, but in cold weather, it may feel less stif ,ling compared to 50 percent relative humidity in hot weather due to the presence of a higher quantity of actual moisture in the air.

Additional Effects and Potential Future Scenarios

Humidity's impact extends beyond personal discomfort. It contributes to issues like mold growth as water from the air settles on surfaces. It can also affect electronics and influence the formation of hurricanes and cyclones. Research indicates that global warming may lead to heatwaves surpassing human survival limits. Wet bulb temperature (WBT), a measure combining heat and humidity, is projected to rise with current carbon emission rates. WBT exceeding 35°C would prevent natural body cooling through sweating, potentially resulting in fatalities within six hours. Scientists predict such extreme conditions could occur every few decades along the Gulf coast after 2070 if global warming is not mitigated.

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