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4  Relevance to the Sinai Peninsula

               The Sinai Peninsula is situated in Egypt, with the
               Mediterranean  Sea  and  Lake  Bardawil  to  the
               north, the Negev Desert in Israel to the northeast,
               the Gulf of Aqaba to the southeast, the Red Sea to
               the south, the Gulf of Suez to the west and the Nile
               delta  to  the  northwest.  The  Sinai  is  roughly
               triangular shaped with an area of approximately
               61,000  km .  The  peninsula  is  divided  into  a
               number of distinct geographic zones, from a dune
               field  and  sand  sheets  in  the  north  to  a
               mountainous  landscape  towards  the  south,
               reaching an elevation of 2642 m above sea level at
               the  tip  of  Mount  Catherine,  Egypt’s  highest
               mountain (Baldi et al., 2020). In general, the Sinai
               has a desert climate - however, there is a strong
                                                            Figure 4-1. Map showing the Sinai Peninsula and its orography
               spatial  variability  in  average  temperature  and
               rainfall especially in the north-south direction. The
               region characterised by a Mediterranean climate in the north (precipitation of 120 mm/yr) and desert climate
               towards the south (precipitation of 32 mm/yr). Maximum summer temperatures in the north and south vary
               between 28°C to 37°C and 31°C to 42°C, respectively. Winter day-time temperatures are usually between
               10°C to 20°C, occasionally dropping below 0°C during night-time (el Afandi et al., 2013).
               4.1  Degradation of the Sinai

               In the Sinai, the changes in vegetation cover likely influenced the natural functioning of the local water cycle.
               In the backdrop of the slowly drying process of Northern Africa, human activity in the region may have given
               the last push to an already crippled climate. Deterioration likely occurred over several thousands of years
               through  human  activities  such  as  anthropogenic  fire,  pastoralism  and  an  increasing  population.  These
               activities led to the disappearance of the woodlands, followed by the grasslands, and this finally led to the
               desertification of the area to its current desert state approximately 2,000 BC (Rosen, 2009). More recently,
               an extensive North Sinai floristic and structure survey performed in 2005 and 2006 revealed that the flora of
               North   Sinai   has   dramatically
               changed in the past 40-50 years, in
               which  more  than  60%  of  species
               recorded  in  previous  surveys were
               no longer found (Kamel et al., 2008).

               Less   vegetation   means   less
               moisture is added to the incoming
               airmasses,  the  humidity  threshold
               for  clouds  to  form  is  no  longer
               reached   meaning   precipitation
               cannot  occur  (see  Figure  4-2.  for
               visualisation). As the Sinai landscape
               and  in  particular  the  vegetal  Figure 4-2. Cross-section of the Sinai peninsula (left to right is north to south). Top
               biomass  of  the  Sinai  continued  to   image shows the (current) desert scenario, bottom image shows the expected
                                               effects of revegetation. Arrows indicate predominant wind direction.
               transform, more and more moisture

               A strategic ‘living systems’ approach to climate stabilization                         14/26
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