Burger
Journalpaper

Cross sectoral impacts on water availability at +2 °C and +3 °C for east Mediterranean island states: The case of Crete

Abstract

Ensemble pan-European projections under a 2 °C global warming relative to the preindustrial period reveal a more intense warming in south Eastern Europe by up to +3 °C, thus indicating that impacts of climate change will be disproportionately high for certain regions. The Mediterranean is projected as one of the most vulnerable areas to climatic and anthropogenic changes with decreasing rainfall trends and a continuous gradual warming causing a progressive decline of average stream flow. Many Mediterranean regions are currently experiencing high to severe water stress induced by human and climate drivers. Changes in average climate conditions will increase this stress notably because of a 10–30% decline in freshwater resources. For small island states, where accessibility to freshwater resources is limited the impact will be more pronounced. Here we use a generalized cross-sectoral framework to assess the impact of climatic and socioeconomic futures on the water resources of an Eastern Mediterranean island. A set of representative regional climate models simulations from the EURO-CORDEX initiative driven by different RCP2.6, RCP4.5, and RCP8.5 GCMs are used to form a comparable set of results and a useful basis for the assessment of uncertainties related to impacts of 2° warming and above. A generalized framework of a cross-sectoral water resources analysis was developed in collaboration with the local water authority exploring and costing adaptation measures associated with a set of socioeconomic pathways (SSPs). Transient hydrological modeling was performed to describe the projected hydro-climatological regime and water availability for each warming level. The robust signal of less precipitation and higher temperatures that is projected by climate simulations results to a severe decrease of local water resources which can be mitigated by a number of actions. Awareness of the practical implications of plausible hydro-climatic and socio-economic scenarios in the not so distant future may be the key to shift perception and preference towards a more sustainable direction.
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