Global Warming Turned the Arab Deserts Green

Published September 9, 2014

Global warming turned the harsh deserts of the Arabian Peninsula lush and green during the most recent interglacial warm period, scientists note in the August 29 issue of Science. During the last interglacial warm period, global temperatures were significantly warmer than the present.

The article, “In Search of Green Arabia,” explains how scientists have discovered many more ancient artifacts in Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Peninsula than expected. The article explains how the artifacts are evidence of a climate that was much wetter and conducive to human health and welfare than the present.
“The most pronounced period of wet and warm weather in the past few hundred thousand years took place about 125,000 years ago, during the height of the last interglacial,” the article notes.

“During the wet spells, lakes filled up, rivers ran, and a savannalike environment resembling that of today’s East Africa dominated Arabia,” Science explained.

“There could be tens of thousands of former lakes and wetlands” to be discovered from the warmer time period, King’s College of London hydrologist Paul Breeze observed in the article. Breeze has already identified 1,300 lake and wetland sites in just 10 percent of the Arabian Peninsula, the article noted.

Ice core samples from Antarctica indicate temperatures as much as 6 degrees Celsius warmer than the present 125,000 years ago when global warming and a wetter climate turned the deserts green.

The findings are consistent with an overall increase in global precipitation during our present warm period. The increase in precipitation has resulted in fewer and less extreme droughts even as temperatures warm. The Arabian Peninsula evidence indicates the beneficial increase in precipitation is likely to provide still further human health and welfare benefits if temperatures continue their modest warming trend.