Title: Assessing spatial shifts of the Mediterranean and arid climates under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 climate projections in Europe
Citation: PURE AND APPLIED GEOPHYSICS vol. 175 no. 11 p. 3955–3971
Publication Year: 2018
JRC N°: JRC109600
ISSN: 0033-4553 (online)
URI: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00024-018-1853-6
DOI: 10.1007/s00024-018-1853-6
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: The Mediterranean basin is the richest biodiversity region in Europe and a global hotspot of biological diversity. In spite of that, anthropogenic climate change is one of the most serious concerns for nature conservation in this region. One of the climatic threats is represented by shifts of the Mediterranean climate and expansion of the arid climate. In this paper we present an assessment of changes in the spatial range of the Mediterranean climate in Europe and the conversion into arid climate under different greenhouse gases forcings, namely RCP4.5 and RCP8.5. We use state-of-the-art regional climate models data from EURO-CORDEX. Our results indicate that by the end of the century under RCP8.5 the present Mediterranean climate zone is projected to contract by 16%, i.e. an area (~157 000 km2) equivalent to half the size of Italy. This compares with the less severe scenario RCP4.5 that projected only a 3% reduction. In addition, the Mediterranean climate zone is projected to expand to other zones by an area equivalent to 24% and 50% of its present extent under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 respectively. Our study indicates that expansion of the arid zone is almost always the cause for contraction of the Mediterranean zone. Under RCP8.5 the arid zone is projected to increase by more than twice its present extent, equivalent to three times the size of Greece. Results of this study are useful for identifying i) priority zones for biodiversity conservation, i.e. stable Mediterranean climate zones, ii) zones requiring assisted adaptation, such as establishment of new protected areas, implementation of buffer zones around protected areas and creating ecological corridors connecting stable Mediterranean zones.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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