Levels and temperature of Mediterranean have risen over 60 years
THE Mediterranean Sea has risen by eight centimetres since 1943 while its temperature is increasing by 0.028 degrees Celsius per year.
Those are the findings of the first Climate Change study to centre on Spain, which compiles data spanning a 60-year period.
Levels of salinity in the Mediterranean have also increased, according to the Spanish Oceanographic Institute (SOI) study.
Focussing solely upon the stretch of sea that bathes the country’s coasts, the research team found levels of the Spanish Mediterranean steadily rose between 1943 and 2005 at an average rate of 2.5 millimetres per year.
A decrease in rainfall and a rise in evaporation are the two principal reasons for this.
According to the report, entitled Climate Change in the Mediterranean, levels of the sea will continue to rise at a greater pace as precipitation levels continue to fall.
By 2050, the Mediterranean will have gained between 25 and 30 centimetres claims the SOI.
This will lead to the disappearance of the majority of the country’s beaches, destroying its traditional tourism industry of cheap beachside package holidays.
Areas of flat coastline, such as parts of the Costa Brava and Costa del Sol, are particularly under threat from changes in the Mediterranean, with an estimated ten metres of sands being lost to the sea.
“This study is not to see how we are losing our beaches, but to advise us what measures to take,” co-author Miguel Ángel Quintanilla said.
“The Mediterranean is also especially vulnerable to the behaviour of man. Agriculture, tourism and construction are all taking their toll on the sea, altering its physical conditions and chemical levels,” he added.
Meanwhile, Spain witnessed its 16th warmest year on record in 2007 as average temperatures were 0.2 degrees Celsius above the norm.
“Last year was hotter than normal, but not as warm as recent years,” Ángel Rivera from the National Meteorology Institute said.
The warmest year on record is 2006 when the average temperature was 1.34C above average.
Last year was also a dry one, with average rainfall levels 20 per cent down.
“There were enormous differences between the regions. Galicia was incredibly dry while the Levant experienced a surplus of rain,” Rivera added.