There will be more episodes of severe cold, less rain in summer, and more respiratory and cardiovascular ailments.
This constitutes the main warning of an international study published in Nature Climate Change and carried out by 18 institutions, among which are the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UMP), the University of Barcelona, the Autonomous University of Barcelona, the CREAF, the Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography (MIO), the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM-CSIC), and the European-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change.
The study, led by Wolfgang Cramer of the Mediterranean Institute of Marine and Terrestrial Biodiversity and Ecology (IMBE), describes for the first time in one place the multiple changes that the inhabitants of the Mediterranean area will face in the coming years as a result of the effects of climate change.
In the past century, temperatures in the Mediterranean basin have risen 1.4 degrees Celsius, that is, 0.4% more than the global average, but also, in the past twenty years, the sea level has risen by six centimeters.
Up to 30% less rainfall
Consequently, even though the increase in temperature is limited to the two degrees established in the Paris Agreements, “summer rainfall will be reduced by 10% to 30% in some regions, which will result in a shortage of water and important losses in agriculture, especially in the southern regions,” says Ana Iglesias, a researcher at the School of Agricultural Engineering, Food and Biosystems of the UPM and co-author of the work.
Meanwhile, the reduction of the level of ice in Antarctica, Greenland, and other glaciated areas, will accelerate the increase in sea level more than expected, which will affect “especially the Mediterranean regions, where a large part of the population lives on the coast,” adds Iglesias. Along with all this, “we will see an increase in storms and an intrusion of sea water in crops in areas very close to the sea, such as the Nile Delta,” the researcher says.
Increase in heat waves and pollution
These changes in climate will also cause collateral damage, as warming will raise heat waves and pollution, which, in turn, will affect human health: respiratory, cardiovascular, and vector-borne diseases will increase. East Nile virus, dengue or chikungunya will also spread to more territories, according to the study.
Finally, the researchers warn, in countries where political instability is already a problem, when the effects of climate change are added, the socio-economic risk factors will increase, “generating greater instability in the regions that will bring more famines, migrations and conflicts”.
Source: Spanish article published RTVE.es / EFE
And if wetlands were part of the solution?
With these serious warnings, this year’s World Wetlands Day celebration, with its theme: “Wetlands and climate change”, offers an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of the urgency to act to stop climate change, and to highlight the significant role that healthy wetlands should play in this endeavour.
Mediterranean wetlands, particularly coastal wetlands, are important for helping to mitigate climate change because they help to manage extreme weather events through the multiple services they provide. Important wetland functions include water storage, groundwater recharge, storm protection, flood mitigation, shoreline stabilization, erosion control, and retention of carbon, nutrients, sediments and pollutants (Dugan 1990).
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