Changing Climate

Existing climatological data sets reveal the Mediterranean Sea climate to be highly sensitive to changes in the atmospheric forcing functions, most notably the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) [8-12]. According to Palutikof and Holt [13], the combined influence of the NAO and global climate change represents a serious threat to water resources in the region. Current indications are that global temperatures will rise more rapidly during the twenty-first century than at any time since the end of the last ice age. Regional predictions of the resulting change in climate remain uncertain; however, the Mediterranean region is expected to warm significantly, well above the global average (Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) [14, 15]). The outlook for precipitation is even less certain, but IPCC projections suggest that annual precipitation throughout most of the Mediterranean will be appreciably lower (Fig. 2.3) with fewer precipitation days, significantly drier summers and a higher risk of drought. Rates of evaporation are expected to increase, thereby further reducing aquifer recharge and surface runoff.

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