Climatic Drivers of Potential Hazards in Mediterranean Coasts

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This paper studies climatic drivers (air and water temperature, precipitation rates, river discharge, sea level and storm patterns) in four Mediterranean regions: the Catalan-Valencia Coast (Spain), the Oran (Algeria) and Gabe`s (Tunisia) Gulfs and the western Nile Delta (Egypt). The paper also considers the potential hazards that these drivers can induce. It first analyses climatic trends in the drivers, taking into account the available time series of recorded and simulated meteo-oceanographic data from different sources. Next, it presents the general framework to assess biogeophysical hazards (flooding, erosion, droughts and water quality), followed by a simple and yet robust evaluation of those hazards for the four studied coastal sites. Assuming climate change projections under different scenarios and considering the observed trends in drivers, the resulting erosion rates due to sea-level rise and wave storm effects have been estimated. The Nile and Ebro Deltas, together with the Oran Gulf, are more vulnerable than the Gulfs of Valencia and Gabe`s. Regarding water quality in terms of (a) precipitation and dissolved oxygen in the water column and (b) sea surface temperature, the results show that the most vulnerable zones for the projected conditions (a) are the Gulfs of Oran, Valencia and Gabe`s, while the Nile Delta is the region where the decrease in water quality will be less pronounced. For the projected conditions (b), the most vulnerable zone is the Ebro Delta, while the impact in the other three cases will be smaller and of comparable magnitude. Finally, the overall future impact of these hazards (associated to climatic change) in the four sites is discussed in comparative terms, deriving some conclusions.


This article was originally published in the Journal of Regional Environmental Change, volume 11, issue 3, in 2011. DOI: 10.1007/s10113-011-0206-0

Prof. El-Askary was mistakenly left out of the credits for this article when it was originally published. An erratum correcting this error was posted.

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