Climate change to cause havoc with Mediterranean water resources says European Commission

Climate change to cause havoc with Mediterranean water resources says European Commission

By Will Bugler

The Mediterranean will face mounting challenges to manage its water supplies as climate change drives droughts and floods according to a report by the European Commission. The report, which focusses on the effects of 2˚C of warming, indicates that there is likely to be a divide between central and northern Europe, which can expect more rainfall overall, and the Mediterranean which will suffer drought.

The study, which assumes that land use and water demand remains constant, shows that river flows in the Mediterranean are expected to fall overall, but the region will still experience extreme rain events that will lead to river flooding. This will pose considerable challenges for water dependent sectors such as agriculture. Spain, Portugal and Greece face severe droughts during the summer season which will limit the amount of water available for cooling heavy industry and energy plants.

Groundwater resources are also expected to fall limiting the region’s ability to abstract water and increasing costs. This, coupled with lower soil moisture content, could lead to crop failure and reduced yields. The situation in countries such as Spain is critical, with freshwater resources expected to be insufficient to meet local water needs under a 2-degree warming.

The report urges governments to take action to adapt to such climate impacts through integrated water management policies. Demand for fresh water will need to reduce considerably, through measures such as increasing irrigation efficiency, efficiency increases in cooling processes in industry and energy production, public water savings, a better management of water resources by, for instance, storing winter water in hydropower reservoirs for irrigation water use in summer.

Download the report by clicking here.

Cover photo by Andres Flajszer/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0): Aqueduct in Los Monegros desert, Aragón, Spain.

About the Author