Environmental Vulnerability to Climate Change: A Review of Thresholds and Ecosystem Models
In 2008, Synapse worked with the Stockholm Environment Institute on a comprehensive literature review of the expected impacts of climate change on the dryland ecosystems of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency. The final report, written in collaboration with the SEI and an IPCC adaptation author, explored the expected impacts of climate change on the Middle East and the Saudi peninsula, and dryland ecosystems. Generally, it is unknown if precipitation will increase or decrease in the hot and hyper-arid region due to climate change, but it is expected that temperatures will increase. Ecosystems already adapted to arid to hyper-arid environmental conditions are likely to be subjected to stresses of increased nighttime temperatures, less predictable rainfall, and shifting seasonality. The Synapse report found that the most significant impacts of climate change in the Saudi peninsula are expected to be coupled with anthropogenic (human) environmental stresses, such as development in critical corridors and overgrazing of marginal grass and shrublands. The report suggested research, modeling, and mitigation techniques to explore the impacts and adaptation potential, culminating in a recommendation to pursue an adaptive management mechanism to increase resilience in this marginal environment.