Regional Impacts - Mediterranean
There are two UKOTs in this region: Gibraltar and the Sovereign
Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus.
- El Niño events have been associated with low rainfall in the
western and central Mediterranean.
- Some of the larger river deltas in the region have been
affected by sea level rise.
- There have been variations in sea surface temperatures over the
last 120 years, but no clear trend has emerged. However, deep-water
records for the western Mediterranean point to continuous warming
from 1959 (Bethoux et al, 1997 cited in Karas, 2000).
- Land records show a warming trend for the western and central
part of the region and a slight cooling in the eastern part of the
- Warmer and drier conditions are partially responsible for
reduced forest productivity and increased forest fires in the
- The long-term prospect is for continued warming as the
influence of greenhouse gases increases over time. A 2005 study by
WWF found that a global temperature increase of 2°C is likely to
lead to a corresponding warming of 1 to 3° in the Mediterranean.
Temperatures are likely to be higher inland than along the coast
and the largest increase will take place during the summer
(Giannakopolous et al., 2005).
- Precipitation trends are uncertain, but some models suggest an
increase of up to 10 per cent in winter precipitation and a
decrease of 5 to 15 per cent in summer precipitation by the latter
half of the 21st century (Karas, 2000).
- As climate changes in the region, the frequency of extreme
weather - heat waves and droughts - will increase. Droughts are
likely to be longer.
Implications and possible future impacts
- As early as 1990, the United Nations Environment Programme
(UNEP) warned that the Mediterranean would be one of the first
regions to feel the impact of climate change on water resources.
Water is already scarce in some parts of the region and a decrease
in precipitation could make existing problems even worse. Water
quality could also be affected. Higher temperatures and evaporation
would cause an increase in salinity of lakes and reservoirs. Sea
level rise would increase saltwater intrusion into aquifers and
estuaries (Karas, 2000).
- The areas that are prone to desertification are likely to
increase, as will the severity of desertification in existing dry
lands (Karas, 2000).
- There may be a reduction in production and crop yields in the
southern part of the Mediterranean basin. Desertification,
increased fire risk, spread of pests and diseases region, and
changes in global markets could affect agriculture to varying
degrees (Karas, 2000).
- Warmer temperatures in northern Europe could encourage people
there to take domestic holidays, rather than travel to the
Mediterranean (Giannakopolous et al., 2005). This would
adversely affect the economy of the Mediterranean.
- Fire risk could increase, especially in inland locations. The
Iberian Peninsula is one of the places where the period of extreme
fire risk would increase.
- Wetlands and other ecosystems are at risk of damage or loss as
climate change compounds the other pressures these natural
resources face. Drier conditions and sea level rise would be affect