The present Mediterranean climate is characterised by mild winters and hot, dry summers, similar to conditions found in central Chile, the southwestern United States and the southern tip of Africa. Three central-northern countries, France, Italy and Turkey, enjoy half of the region's precipitation, while dry areas predominate to the south and east (Fig. 2.1) [1-4]. Although mountains and inland seas create an
abundance of local microclimates, most areas receive about three times more rainfall in the winter than they do in the summer months [6, 7].
About two thirds of water supplied in the region is used for irrigation (48% in the north and 82% in the drier south). The remainder is used for domestic supply, industry and the energy sector. It is estimated that 20 million Mediterranean people are still deprived of access to safe drinking water, particularly in the south and east. Currently, 8 of the 12 southern- and eastern-rim nations (the SEMED countries - Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey) use over 50% of their renewable water resources, with two countries (the Palestinian Territories and Libya) exceeding 100%. Seventy-five percent of the renewable water supply is derived from surface runoff while aquifer recharge represents the remaining 25%. Figure 2.2 shows a hydrogeologic map of the Mediterranean region, and indicates areas where groundwater resources are compromised by low aquifer recharge, over exploitation and high groundwater salinity.
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