By Humphrey Carter and Alister Doyle
A year ago this week, we were on weather alert but maximum temperatures an average of 4ºC lower than they have been over the past couple of days.
While parts of the mainland were on storm and torrential rain alert yesterday, the Balearics was just one of two regions on hot weather alart yesterday afternoon. A slight lull in the heat wave is forecast for the next few days but a fresh front of hot air from the Sahara is forecast to move across the Balearics during Sunday. But, not only do the Bulletin weather records indicate that the summers are getting hotter here in the Balearics, researchers meeting in Oslo yesterday warned that Mediterranean beaches may get too hot for tourists this century because of global warming and northern Europeans will find the summer balmy enough to stay at home. “In the summers of the 2080s, potential tourists in the UK and Germany will be able to find much better climatic conditions in their own country than in the Mediterranean,” according to a British and Dutch study in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism. About 100 million people, mostly from northern Europe and led by Germans and Britons, visit the Mediterranean region every year where they spend almost 100 billion euros. But even this summer, people have complained about the scorching sands in the Balearics and that the temperature of the Mediterranean is 2ºC higher than this time last year, fluctuating at around 30ºC - not very refreshing. Researchers said yesterday that any shifts in their holiday habits could have a huge impact on Mediterranean economies including those of Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Morocco. “People don't want to go looking for sun, sea and sand and be forced to sit in the shade because it's too hot,” David Viner, a senior climate scientist at the University of East Anglia in England and co-author, said. Beaches in northern Europe, from Ireland and northern France to the Baltics and southern Scandinavia, could become more attractive to holidaymakers in summers in coming decades. A heatwave in Europe this year means that some northern Europeans are travelling to Mediterranean beaches and finding the weather no warmer than at home. “Those conditions will become more prevalent in future,” Viner said.
Forecasts were issued in the UK yesterday, for example, that August is going to be even hotter than July.
Many scientists say that fossil fuels burnt in power plants, factories and cars are releasing heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, raising global temperatures. Apart from baking temperatures, the attraction of the Mediterranean might fade because the region could become drier, with more frequent water shortages and forest fires. Viner's study with a researcher at Maastricht University in the Netherlands said the Mediterranean climate would become more suitable for tourism in spring, autumn and winter. Overall, Mediterranean nations' revenues from tourism were likely to decline even if they were more spread over the year.
The report said Mediterranean countries could play to other strengths away from the beach such as food, landscapes and monuments and, in the long term, sunbathing might go out of fashion.
Food for thought for the Balearic tourism authorities.


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