Iran has been described as having a variable climate. In the northwest, winters are traditionally cold with heavy snowfall and subfreezing temperatures during December and January. Spring and fall are relatively mild, while summers are dry and hot. In the south, winters are mild and the summers are very hot, having average daily temperatures in July exceeding 38o C. On the Khuzestan plain, summer heat is accompanied by high humidity.
In general, Iran has an arid climate, in which most of the relatively scant annual precipitation falls from October through April. In most of the country, yearly precipitation historically averaged 25 centimeters or less. The major exceptions are the higher mountain valleys of the Zagros and the Caspian coastal plain, where precipitation averages at least 50 centimeters annually. In the western part of the Caspian, rainfall often exceeds 100 centimeters annually and is distributed relatively evenly throughout the year. This contrasts with some basins of the Central Plateau that receive ten centimeters or less of precipitation annually.
Iran's post-Revolution moves toward industrial development and its continued expansion of its oil industries were potential factors in future changes to its climate. By 2008 Iran reportedly suffered from air pollution, especially in urban areas, from vehicle emissions, refinery operations, and industrial effluents, deforestation, overgrazing, desertification, oil pollution in the Persian Gulf, wetland losses from drought, soil degradation (salination), inadequate supplies of potable water, water pollution from raw sewage and industrial waste, and other effects of urbanization.
Especially in urban areas, vehicle emissions, refinery operations, and industrial effluents contributed to poor air quality. Between 1985 and 2005, huge increases in energy consumption tripled carbon emissions. Most cars used leaded gas and lacked emissions control equipment. Tehran was rated by 2008 as one of the world's most polluted cities. The abundance of fossil fuels discouraged the use of alternative fuels. Much of Iran's territory suffers from desertification and/or deforestation. Industrial and urban wastewater runoff has contaminated rivers and coastal waters and threatened drinking water supplies. Wetlands and bodies of freshwater were increasingly being destroyed as industry and agriculture expanded, and oil and chemical spills had harmed aquatic life in the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea. Iran contended that the international rush to develop oil and gas reserves in the Caspian Sea presented that region with a new set of environmental threats. Although a Department of Environment had existed since 1971, Iran had not developed a policy of sustainable development because short-term economic goals, particularly support of the oil and gas industries, had taken precedence.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is a unique country around the world, which has prepared costly and comprehensive operational plans, not only to mitigate GHGs emissions - subject to provision of national and international support - but also for considerable increase of public and private investments in adaptation actions due to its high vulnerability to climate change, especially in the recent years.
Reduction of the levels of agricultural production, sharp drops in surface runoffs and underground water storage, increase of mean temperature with its consequences (heat exhaustion and spread of some diseases), increased hot-spots of dust and sand storms (with high health and industrial adverse impacts) as well as extreme vulnerability of biodiversity and natural resources are some of the direct and indirect extreme impacts of climate change. Also, increased air pollution due to lack of appropriate technology support with its increased health risks is another aspect of the country's vulnerability.
It is predicted that up to 2030 the amount of surface runoffs will continue to decrease by 25% and the mean temperature will raise by more than 1.5° C. This increase in temperature is equal to increased losses of national programmable water by about 20 to 25 billion cubic meters. Moreover, the amount of renewable water of the country has decreased from 130 to 90 billion cubic meters per year. Due to the changing trends of climate change and hydrological parameters, agricultural production and economy has faced significant damages amounting to 3.7 billion USD (based on fixed prices) annually from 2015 to 2030 compared to 2010. Iran is also experiencing the increasing trend of drying wetlands, as an important indicator of the climate change impact.
A senior Iranian official has accused Iran’s foreign enemies, including Israel, of modifying the weather in the country in order to create drought. “Foreigners are suspected of intervening in the country’s climate," Gholamreza Jalali, the head of Iran’s Passive Defense Organization, a subdivision of the armed forces, said on 02 July 2018 in the Iranian capital, Tehran. He made the remarks at an event focusing on agriculture amid recent protests over water scarcity in the southwest of the country. In the past few days, residents had taken to the streets to demonstrate against shortages of drinking water.
“Joint teams from Israel and one of our neighboring countries make clouds that are entering Iran” and which are unable to produce rain, Jalali added. He did not specify which neighboring country he was referring to. “In addition to that, we have the issue of ‘cloud-stealing’ and ‘snow-stealing,’” he was quoted as saying by domestic media, but he did not give any further explanation or present any evidence. His claim was dismissed by an official from the country’s Meteorological Organization, who said that “it was not possible for a country to steal snow or clouds.”
An intense heat wave is shattering temperature records in Iran and the Caucasus nations of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia, causing power shortages that are adding to discomfort in the region. Weather experts on 06 July 2018 said the heat wave is the result of a high-pressure dome or heat dome that formed over the Eurasian region and reaches as far north as southern Russia, where temperatures hit a record high for June on June 28.
The consumption of electrical power in Iran on July 2 hit 56,672 megawatts, a historical high, officials said. Tehran Province announced that all government agencies and offices, banks, municipalities, and other public nongovernmental organizations would start work at 6 a.m. and end at 2 p.m. The schedule was to be in effect until July 22. Iranian officials said that Tehran Province’s power demand increases by about 150-200 megawatts with each one degree rise in temperature.
Tehran also experienced rolling blackouts and a shortage of water to keep power stations running, officials said. In the cities of Kermanshah, Ardabil, and Isfahan, traffic lights and elevators stopped working as the heat caused several hours-long power outages.
While individual weather events cannot be tied directly to global warming, scientists say the gradual warming of the planet caused by greenhouse gases likely is behind the uptick in heat waves. "Heat waves like this are likely to be more frequent going forward than they have been in the past," Jeff Masters, director of meteorology for the private forecasting service Weather Underground, told AP.
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