Water Stress in the Mediterranean (Semide / Emwis)

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Water Stress in the Mediterranean

For many years now, the Mediterranean has been facing problems leading to a situation of serious environmental degradation. An increase in the temperature and salinity levels has been recorded during the second half of the 20th century in the Mediterranean Sea. However, this increase does not follow progressive trend and periods of temperature alternation have been observed. Following several climate change scientific reports, sea level trend at the global scale is higher than at the regional scales.  Furthermore, in the regional scale there are other influence factors such the atmospheric pressure and the wind. In addition, the small rises in temperature registered in the Mediterranean Sea, would have been compensated with an increase in the salinity, even though this fact is uncertain owing a lack of historical data.

Nevertheless, we can establish a prediction for the future: “The increase in the water stress in the Mediterranean basin (due to a higher evaporation rates and a decrease in rainfalls and water courses levels) will cause the raise of salinity would made up for the raise in temperature”*.

Drought in the Mediterranean and Middle East, resulting from lack of rainfall, reduces run-off, thus also affecting, among other things, power generation. In combination with high rates of evaporation and lack of moisture, it alters soil properties making the soil less productive, thus holding back agricultural development, the backbone for the economy of the Mediterranean basin countries.
he main cause of the water stress suffered by the Mediterranean and Middle East is the increasing use of natural resources by the rising population and the higher demand for water per capita. This is not only because customs are being adopted that do not allow for balanced water use but also, and especially, because economic and industrial development in the region has turned its back on any type of sustainable management of resources and conservation of the natural environment.



Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.