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Impact of drought in the mediterranean pasturelands under the effect of climate change

Panagea Ioanna

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Year 2016
Type of Item Master Thesis
Bibliographic Citation Ioanna Panagea, "Impact of drought in the mediterranean pasturelands under the effect of climate change", Master Thesis, School of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Crete, Chania, Greece, 2016
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The study of climate change effects on drylands, like the Mediterranean, constitutes an important research field the last decades, due to their remarkably unpredictable character and their influence from extreme events such as drought. The increase of mean temperature, as well as the precipitation variability is predicted to affect the fluctuation of drought and consequently the productivity of ecosystems. The projection of yield response to droughts may be especially useful, by providing sustainable solutions through the creation of strategies and decisions making for the stakeholders. In this work, climate model data is obtained from 9 GCMs under two greenhouse gas concentration trajectories, RCP2.6 and RCP8.5 of the 5th phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, and corrected for biases. The derived dataset is used for the projection of the fluctuation of drought, using two drought indices, SPI and RDI. The former only takes into account precipitation while the latter takes also considers the change in temperature. For the prediction of aridity, the UNEP aridity index (〖AI〗_U) from Precipitation (P) and Potential Evapotranspiration (PET), is used. The relative yield response of the pasturelands to climate change is estimated by the crop-water production function proposed by FAO.Results are analyzed for two future study periods, within a domain that includes the entire European Mediterranean and four CASCADE FP7 Project Study Sites. A gradual increase in the intensity and severity of the drought events, as well as in their spatial extend is observed, with the majority of the Mediterranean areas to drop at least one class in the aridity gradient. This reflects on the grazing lands yield, as a reduction in the relative yield response up to 100% in individual regions, which may render them totally unproductive for the current species. On the other hand, an increase of yield is observed in mountainous areas which are currently characterized wet. The models projections show similar results up to 2050. However, uncertainty increases from then until 2100 and with the increase of latitude. The temporal analysis in the four study areas indicates an increasing trend in temperature, evapotranspiration, aridity and intensity of drought events, while precipitation shows a decreasing trend.

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