Future changes in the Mediterranean water budget projected by an ensemble of regional climate models

E. Sanchez-Gomez, S. Somot, A. Mariotti

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The Mediterranean basin is a region characterized by its vulnerability to changes in the water cycle. Hence, the impact of global warming on the water resources in the Mediterranean zone is one of the major concerns for the scientific community. The future climate projections used to elaborate the IPCC report of 2007 show great alterations in the evaporation and precipitation over the Mediterranean Sea at the end of 21st century. In this work we investigate the changes in the Mediterranean Sea water budget by using SRES-A1B scenario experiments performed with high resolution (25 km) regional climate models (RCMs). The RCMs provide good estimates of the water budget components, in particular with a significant improvement of the runoff and Black Sea discharge terms compared to the coarser resolution general circulation models (GCMs) used in the last Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) report. As for the case of GCMs, the RCMs show that the Mediterranean water budget is likely to be significantly altered at the end of 21st century. The response of the hydrological variables to global warming starts to be statistically significant from 2050, though some alterations are already observed before 2050. The RCMs predict an increase of evaporation, and a decrease of precipitation, and river and Black Sea discharge, yielding to a large increase of the Mediterranean fresh water deficit. The freshwater deficit for the period 2070-2099 related to 1950-1999 presents a mean increase of +40% for both RCMs and GCMs. Copyright 2009 by the American Geophysical Union.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberL21401
Pages (from-to)-
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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