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Severe climate-induced water shortage and extremes in Crete

Tsanis Giannis, Koutroulis, Aris, Ioannis N. Daliakopoulos, Daniela Jacob

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Year 2011
Type of Item Peer-Reviewed Journal Publication
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Climate change is expected to have a significant impact on the hydrologic cycle, creating changes in freshwater resources. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that, as a result, floods and prolonged droughts will take place at increasingly frequent periods. The Mediterranean has been described as one of the main climate change “hot-spots”, with recent simulations showing a collective picture of substantial drying and warming. This effect appears more pronounced during warm periods, when the seasonal decrease of precipitation can exceed control climatology by 25–30%. Despite the decreasing annual rainfall trend, an increase in the amount and intensity of wintertime rainfall is evident. However, the scientific question on the quantitative impact of these signals to small scale coastal watersheds and Mediterranean islands has not been answered. The state-of-the-art Ensembles dataset was employed to assess the impact of the changing climate on the water availability of the island of Crete at basin scale. Here, the Ensembles precipitation and temperature data is used as input for a rainfall–runoff model previous calibrated for the whole island with the principle of regionalization. Data analysis for the period 1970–2100 reveals an overall decreasing precipitation trend which, combined with a temperature rise, leads to substantial reduction of water availability. Quantitative results of hydrological change provide the data required to improve knowledge and adaptation policy to water shortages.