BALEARIC summers are going to get hotter and weather experts claim that this year is going to be like the scorching summer two years ago.
According to a report drawn up by 400 scientists and released yesterday by the central environment ministry, Spain is one of the most vulnerable countries that could be affected by climatic change. In the last part of this century average temperatures could increase by almost 7 degrees during the summer, 5 degrees in the Balearics, and sea levels could rise by one metre, which would mean that many beaches and coastal regions would disappear, the study said. Climatic change could cause many problems in Spain and the Balearic Islands, for example; a decrease in rainfall and as a result a decrease in available water; fishing waters could become less productive; more predatory animals; less biodiversity; increase in natural disasters and more human infections. In central Spain temperatures could increase by 5 to 7 degrees in the summer and 3 to 4 degrees in the winter. Temperatures will increase 2 degrees less in coastal regions and in the Balearic Islands. Rainfall in the summer is expected to decrease throughout Spain (except in the Canary Islands). There will be significant increases in the number of days that have extreme temperatures (except in the Balearic and Canary Islands) and the days with less extremes will decrease. The study argues that climatic change will affect the ecosystems in the Atlantic and Mediterranean regions in different ways, stating that in the former the increase in temperatures will go hand-in-hand with an increase in productivity, but in the former areas the decrease in rainfall and water will bring about less competitiveness. If Spain gets hotter the animals and plants will be affected, whereby there will be an increase in predatory species, some species will begin to migrate or will completely disappear and there could be more parasites. These climatic changes will also have a negative effect on environmental conservation, on the tourist industries and on water and fish supplies. Coastal regions will be at risk because of a possible increase in sea levels. The study estimates that sea levels will rise between 10 and 68 cms, although according to the worst case scenarios, it will rise by one metre. This could cause the loss of a number of beaches, especially in Cantabria, as well as flooding a large part of coastal areas in other Spanish towns.
Climatic change will not only affect the environment and wildlife, but also humans, says the report. There will be more frequent deaths caused by heatwaves and it is possible that there will be an increase in mosquito related illnesses (dengue and malaria), plus an increase in general health problems because of the high concentration of contamination in the atmosphere. The study on how climatic change could affect Spain was carried out by the Spanish Climatic Change Office at the Ministry for Environment and the Department of Environmental Science at the Castilla-La Mancha University. The conclusions were presented yesterday in Madrid by the Minister for the Environment, Cristina Narbona, and the professor of Ecology, José Manuel Moreno who is also the co-ordinator for the study.