Climatic changes and associated impacts in the Mediterranean resulting from a 2°C global warming

C. Giannakopoulos, P. Le Sager, M. Bindi, M. Moriondo, E. Kostopoulou, C. M. Goodess

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Climatic changes over the Mediterranean basin in 2031–2060, when a 2 °C global warming is most likely to occur, are investigated with the HadCM3 global circulation model and their impacts on human activities and natural ecosystem are assessed. Precipitation and surface temperature changes are examined through mean and extreme values analysis, under the A2 and B2 emission scenarios. Confidence in results is obtained via bootstrapping. Over the land areas, the warming is larger than the global average. The rate of warming is found to be around 2 °C in spring and winter, while it reaches 4 °C in summer. An additional month of summer days is expected, along with 2–4 weeks of tropical nights. Increase in heatwave days and decrease in frost nights are expected to be a month inland. In the northern part of the basin the widespread drop in summer rainfall is partially compensated by a winter precipitation increase. One to 3 weeks of additional dry days lead to a dry season lengthened by a week and shifted toward spring in the south of France and inland Algeria, and autumn elsewhere. In central Mediterranean droughts are extended by a month, starting a week earlier and ending 3 weeks later. The impacts of these climatic changes on human activities such as agriculture, energy, tourism and natural ecosystems (forest fires) are also assessed. Regarding agriculture, crops whose growing cycle occurs mostly in autumn and winter show no changes or even an increase in yield. In contrast, summer crops show a remarkable decrease of yield. This different pattern is attributed to a lengthier drought period during summer and to an increased rainfall in winter and autumn. Regarding forest fire risk, an additional month of risk is expected over a great part of the basin. Energy demand levels are expected to fall significantly during a warmer winter period inland, whereas they seem to substantially increase nearly everywhere during summer. Extremely high summer temperatures in the Mediterranean, coupled with improved climate conditions in northern Europe, may lead to a gradual decrease in summer tourism in the Mediterranean, but an increase in spring and autumn.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-224
Number of pages16
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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