A new scientific report has found that the entire region of Southern Spain could actually be reduced to a desert by the year 2100 because of climate change.This scenario is very probable if the current rate of greenhouse gasses is not reduced.
The new study, published in the journal Science, revealed that any measures that won’t have an extreme effect of reducing carbon emissions won’t change the current prediction in how the Mediterranean region will be affected. Any moderately ambitious policies in preventing climate change will only delay the inevitable.
The region and its ecosystems could reach an unprecedented state that hasn’t been seen in the past 10 millennia. For example, the cities of Seville, Spain and Lisbon, Portugal could actually change from a temperate climate to that of a desert by the end of the century.
The researchers behind the study were able to come to this conclusion after they analyzed extensive historical data of the Mediterranean region throughout 10,000. They also developed computer models for the region based on the targets established by the international community in The Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to 2 or 1.5 degrees Celsius. Researchers also took into consideration pollen records to establish how future temperatures will affect plants in the region.
The report already paints a bleak picture of the future of the region, which can become worse because the climate models developed by the researchers only took into consideration natural vegetation and temperature. Intense human activity in the region could lead to a faster degradation of the region into a desert. The human impact was not considered into the study as it quite hard to quantify the number of variables.
In the worst case scenario of maintaining or increasing the current rate of carbon emissions, temperatures would rise nearly 5C on a global level by 2100. This would lead to a massive increase of desert in Southern Spain and across the south of Europe. However, if the levels are kept in accordance to the pledges made in Paris, then desert will still see a substantial increase.
The Mediterranean region is extremely sensitive to climate change, so much more than any other region on the planet. This partly contributes to the drastic changes described in the study.