Implications of Climate Change on Water Security in the Mediterranean Region

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Ken W.F. Howard

Abstract Throughout the Mediterranean Region, a combination of population growth and climate change will compromise our ability to manage available water resources. Pro-active resource management decisions are required; however, these efforts will prove futile unless reliable predictions can be made of the impact that changing conditions will impart upon the hydrologic cycle and water reserves. Groundwater is a particular concern as its unique characteristics are rarely adequately accommodated within IWRM (Integrated Water Resource Management). Moreover, few studies have considered the potential impacts of climate change on groundwater resources in a region where meteorological conditions and sea and lake levels are expected to change at rates that are unprecedented in modern times. Time is of the essence. Groundwater is resilient to drought and promises to play a crucial role in regions where climate change threatens renewable water resources. Questions that need to be addressed are: (1) How will climate change affect the nature and seasonality of aquifer recharge? (2) How will fresh groundwater levels beneath coastal areas respond to changing sea/lake levels, and to what extent will rising sea levels promote the intrusion of seawater? (3) Will a decline in sea/lake levels accelerate the release of contaminants stored in coastal aquifers to receiving water bodies? (4) Over what time frame will changes to the groundwater system occur?

Keywords Climate change • Groundwater • Water security • Mediterranean

Groundwater Research Group, University of Toronto Scarborough, 1265 Military Trail,

Toronto, Canada e-mail: [email protected]

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