Israel Will Get Much Hotter by 2050, Heat Waves Will Increase, Expert Prediction Finds

Meteorological service forecasts include seven heat waves of over 48 degrees Celsius at Lake Kinneret a year, double the days above 34 in Jerusalem and much more extreme heat on the coast 

Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron
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Sun set in Israel southern Negev district
Sun set in Israel southern Negev district Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz
Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron

The average temperature in Israel is expected to increase 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, the Israel Meteorological Service announced. This figure would mean a total increase of 3 degrees in 100 years, according to the data released in response to a request from Haaretz. The service expects the number of very hot days, above 34 degrees Celsius (93.2 degrees Fahrenheit), will increase by tens of percentage points.

Annual heat waves are also expected to increase and reoccur between six to seven times yearly, with experts believing they will be longer and more extreme. Some regions are due to see 48-degree temperatures. The number of warm nights – defined as 20 degrees or higher – will rise from 63 days to 75 days on average. Spring will see another five hot days annually, while autumn will be disrupted by eight more hot days. In the Jordan Valley, temperatures are expected to rise even more than 2 degrees in the next 30 years – higher than the national average increase.

This forecast is the first one detailing how climate change will affect various regions within Israel, where the pace of warming is double the global average and has been triple the global rate over the past 30 years. The findings were recently presented to the defense establishment in preparation for the climate crisis.

Another forecast expects a rise of 50 percent or more in the number of days in which temperatures will be above 35 degrees in most Israeli cities. This forecast was prepared using data from CORDEX, Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment, at the initiative of the World Meteorological Organization and UNESCO.

The database, which belongs to the World Climate Research Program, is being used by the team within the Prime Minister’s Office in charge of putting together a climate crisis preparation plan.

Of the many aspects of climate change which affect human health, heat waves are considered among the most dangerous. The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control say that quick temperature increases immediately hurt the body’s ability to regulate its own temperature. As such, heat waves are liable not only to cause heat stroke and dehydration but also to lead to strokes, severe damage to the kidneys and deterioration of chronic medical conditions like heart failure.

Recent research also shows a correlation between heat waves and problems with pregnancy, fertility and babies, as well as a rise in violent incidents.

Researchers Yitzhak Yosef, Avner Furshpan, Leenes Uzan and Assaf Zipori of the meteorological service conducted the research under service director Nir Stav. The forecast is based on climate models from other research institutes abroad, which were adapted to local conditions based on the service’s 24 weather stations around the country. The forecast is divided into five climate regions in Israel due to its geographic location and topographical complexity.

Pool goers look on as fire blazes in the Jerusalem HillsCredit: Emil Salman

Jerusalem: Longer Heat Waves

The Jerusalem hills are expected to see a sharp rise in the hot (over 30 degrees Celsius) summer days, from 45 days a year to 60 by 2050. The number of very hot days (35 degrees and over) will nearly triple from six per year to 15 on average. The number of average hot nights per year will also rise from about 40 to around 60.

In addition, the regional heat waves are expected to increase in number, temperature and duration – from two to four such waves, lasting four days on average and featuring temperatures of over 32 degrees, by 2050 experts expect six or seven heat waves per year, each lasting six days on average, and featuring temperatures of over 34 degrees Celsius. The temperature during these expected heat waves will top out at 39 degrees.

Coastal Plains: Highs of 40 Degrees

Along the coast, from Acre to Ashkelon, the number of hot summer days is expected to rise from 65 to 75 days per year by 2050. The very hot days will rise dramatically in number as well, from four days annually today to 15 days in 2050. Autumn in Israel is expected to see 11 more hot days, from 27 days per season today to 38 by 2050. The coastal plain will also see a significant number of heat waves, from one or two today to four on average per year by 2050.

A firefighter during a heat induced fire in September 2020Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

The Northeast: Extremely Hot Days Skyrocket

The Safed area will see a 42 percent rise in the number of hot days, from some 40 days per year currently to around 57 days per year by 2050. The average of extremely hot days is expected to triple, from the current five to 14. In the Galilee Panhandle valleys, near Dafna and Kfar Blum, the average number of hot days is expected to rise from 76 today to 82 per year by 2050. The number of very hot days in the region is expected to rise from 65 per year to 76 by 2050.

In general in the Galilee Panhandle valleys, both days and nights are expected to get much warmer. The number of extremely hot days, in which temperatures exceed 38 degrees, will reach an annual 35 by 2050. The number of warm nights is also expected to rise, from 53 nights to almost 70 per year on average. The mountains expect sharper growth in such nights, from the current 34 to 55 nights per year.

Today Israel’s northeast sees around three heat waves per year, lasting around four days each and featuring temperatures of 36 degrees in the Galilee Panhandle valleys and 34 degrees on average in the mountain area. By 2050 the number of heat waves is expected to rise to six or seven per year, lasting around six days, featuring 37 degree averages in the valleys and 35 in the mountains, and highs of over 42 degrees.

The Negev: Triple the Extremely Hot Days

The Negev, already used to hot days of over 30 degrees in the summer, will not see many more of them, and the expected average by 2050 will be 85 per year. However, the region will see a rise in very hot days (of over 34 degrees) from 40 currently to 55 by 2050. The number of extremely hot days is expected to triple, from four currently to twelve in 2050.

The average of hot days in autumn is expected to rise from the current 36 to 45, and the number of warm nights will rise from an average of 11 today to 21. The spring will see three more hot days on average and two more warm nights.
The number of heat waves in the Negev will rise from the current four to seven longer ones annually by 2050, with highs of over 42 degrees.

Jordan Valley: Highs of 48 degrees Celsius

Since the region already experiences high temperatures The Meteorological Service explained that there is no significance to examining the rise in the number of merely hot days, and focused instead on the rise in extremely hot days. The main difference is expected in the average number of extremely hot days, of over 38 degrees, from the current 77 days per year to 85 in 2050. The service further predicts that the average temperature in the Jordan Valley region is expected to rise “by maybe more than 2 percent” by the middle of the century – over the average national rise.

In the Lake Kinneret region, the average number of extremely hot days will rise from the current 36 to 57 days, a 58 percent rise. The number of extremely hot days in the spring will nearly double, from around eight such days annually now in the Jordan Valley region to 14 by 2050. In the Kinneret region the projected rise in such days is from a current 4.5 to eight. The region currently sees some three heat waves per year, lasting four days, with highs of 44 degrees. By 2050 the annual average will stand at seven heat waves, lasting six days, with temperatures reaching 48 degrees.

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