Summer in the eastern Mediterranean is already a brutally hot dry period of four months, with steady temperatures in the high 80s and 90s. Now, a new study says that by 2100, climate changes caused by global warming will extend the region’s summer season by two full months.
“Our research shows that the climate changes we are all noticing today are likely to intensify in the coming decades,” said Assaf Hochman of Tel Aviv University’s School of Geosciences, who led the research. “It is very important to understand this to try to prevent the deterioration as much as possible, or at least prepare for the change.”
Winter, which is the region’s rainy season, will accordingly shorten from four to two months, the study says. The research is based on global climate models and points to an expected rise in greenhouse gases as the main driving factor of the seasonal changes.
The study, published in the International Journal of Climatology, was overseen by Prof. Pinhas Alpert and conducted by Hochman, Tzvi Harpaz and Prof. Hadas Saaroni, all of TAU’s School of Geosciences.
Using an algorithm developed by Alpert, the scientists examined the impact of human behavior on climate in the eastern Mediterranean region – an area that covers Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and southern Turkey – and came to disturbing conclusions.
“Pending no significant change in current human behavior in the region, the summer is expected to extend by 25% by the middle of the century (2046-2065) and by 49% until its end (2081-2100),” Hochman said. “The combination of a shorter rainy season and a longer dry season may cause a major water problem in Israel and neighboring countries.”
Hochman added that serious consequences are foreseen that have the ability to significantly impact lives: shrinking and degrading of water sources and their quality, increased risk of brushfires, worsening pollution and altered timing and intensity of seasonal illnesses and health hazards.
“One of the main causes of these changes is the growing concentration of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere as a result of human activity. We have sought to examine what is expected in the 21st century as a direct result of the greenhouse effect on the climate,” said Hochman.
In an attempt to minimize the effects of climate change on the region, the research team is currently exploring the possibility of establishing a multidisciplinary regional center for climate adaptation.
Alpert’s climate-change research projects involving Americans, Europeans, Jordanians and Palestinians have been featured several times in ISRAEL21c.
Already in 2014, Alpert told ISRAEL21c that he was worried about the effects of climate change on sub-tropic areas, including the Mediterranean region. He predicted reduced rainfall and increases in heat and drought.
“Nearly all the models show that rainfall is going down, and at the end of this century we will have reductions, a reduction that we already see here in the last 30 and 40 years. We are just at the beginning and the models predict it will be much worse,” Alpert said.