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  • Writer's pictureScience & Environment

Climate Change is erasing cities

Updated: Feb 11

Storm Daniel illustrates the devastating effect climate change is having worldwide

By Eslam Emam

Photo Credit: Storm Daniel to the north of Libya on September 9, 2023, via VIIRS Imagery from the NOAA-20 Satellite

Nowadays, climate change is a severe problem that a massive number of countries throughout the world are facing. Every day, we wake up to new catastrophic events on our doorstep. At an alarming pace, our climate has become unstable, gaining momentum as it distorts our world map. In just the last month, we have all seen the horrific scenes of the substantial Turkish, Syrian and Moroccan earthquake sequences and the destructive Storm Daniel on our screens. Yet, these are only the beginning of the influences of temperature change.

Derna is a port city in eastern Libya with a population of around 90,000. It is situated between the Green Mountain, the Mediterranean Sea, and the African Western Desert, making its location and physical environment unique. As a focal point city between Europe and Middle Eastern countries, it has become home to many different cultures and backgrounds, with a massive volume of trade.

In September 2023, the city faced a giant storm (Storm Daniel), which perilously affected the infrastructure of the two dams over the Wadi Derna River, causing them to break. Derna was wiped out by a barrage of flooding, which, heartbreakingly, resulted in the death of 11,300 residents, while another 10,100 remain missing and countless more are severely injured. The storm also destroyed buildings and houses, displacing a further 30,000 people. Derna was one of the cities hit hardest by this storm, yet it is only part of the damage caused across the Mediterranean.

Storm Daniel was the most destructive Mediterranean tropical-like cyclone in history, having deadly consequences across Greece, Turkey, Libya, Egypt, Israel, and Bulgaria. It had quasi-tropical cyclone characteristics (its ‘energy’ came through two separate sources) at its creation on the 4th of September. It then developed into a full tropical cyclone on the 9th, with winds peaking at 85km/h, which lasted three days. The storm originated from an omega block, where a high-pressure zone was sandwiched between two low-pressure zones, resulting in a substantial catastrophic storm. Studies have proven that climate change exacerbated the storm massively, showing how important it is for all countries to start to plan for the extreme events we can expect in these unprecedented times. It also highlights how wealthier countries need to assist more vulnerable countries, as Libya has been since the civil war damaged large amounts of infrastructure in 2011.

Timing is running out; worldwide, countries should be cooperating with each other to face climate change before it is too late. Cities will continue disappearing; people will lose their families and friends. Without action, we are only waiting to see which country will be erased next.


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