HOW CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECTS WATER

Climate change is a reality that we can verify by observing the environment around us. The data does not deceive either. Nature and living beings experience the consequences of this phenomenon. And water, one of the most valuable elements on the planet, does not escape from this problem that is becoming more acute every day. That is why we detail how climate change affects water.

Studies and media reveal every day new negative effects of climate change. Climate change will reduce crop yields by up to 10%, exacerbating levels of malnutrition. According to the FAO, Europe must increase production by 40% by 2030 to supply basic foodstuffs to a growing world population, but places like Poland, where the next climate change summit will be held, are experiencing a historic drought on 65% of their arable land. Experts warn that the implementation of a strategy to deal with the drought is becoming a “global priority”, and not only for the countries of southern Europe.

Drought and climate change


Drought and changes in global warming go hand in hand. The Paris Agreement of 2015 had the common goal of preventing the planet’s temperature from exceeding 2°C compared to the pre-industrial era in 2100. Reducing the unstoppable rise in the thermometer would avoid consequences such as the extinction of species, loss of coastlines or a greater probability of extreme phenomena such as heat waves, droughts or floods, as we are already experiencing. The forecasts show that the temperature at a global level in 2100 would increase by 2.6ºC, a negative horizon that Spain would reach even 50 years earlier. Between 2016 and 2017, Spain increased its emissions by 4.4%. According to data from the Sustainability Observatory, with the exception of the Valencia region, which reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 0.07%, all the other autonomous regions of Spain increased them. This would mean that in 2050, rainfall would be reduced in the Peninsula, especially in the northwest quadrant, reaching maximum reductions in Lugo and Ourense, with more than 500 mm per year.

 

The sea, affected


More information? Recently a team of scientists from the University of Southampton (UK) has assured that climate change will have an impact on global sea levels. In fact, they estimate that it will rise by 3 meters by the year 2100. This would mean that a large part of Barcelona, A Coruña, Santander or Málaga would be flooded by the sea. Most of the Rías Baixas, the Ebro Delta and the Doñana National Park would disappear.

How have we reached this disastrous horizon of forecasts? How have the oceans and natural ecosystems reacted to gas emissions in the last 30 years? Why are the greenhouse effect, climate change and global warming becoming more frequent terms in our vocabulary?

Climate change

The greenhouse effect is a phenomenon whose main cause is found in the emission of certain gases that retain part of the energy emitted by the soil after being heated by solar radiation. Therefore, a heating effect is produced similar to that of a greenhouse, with a rise in temperature.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are higher than ever before. In 2010 they reached 49 gigatons of CO2 equivalent.

“The last three decades have been successively the hottest since 1850”

In terms of temperature, the global average on the planet’s surface gained one degree between 1880 and 2015. The last three decades have been successively the hottest since 1850.

 

Oceans, ice and land

In any of its states, fresh and salt water is one of the fundamental resources on which the development of society is based. As the climate is altered, so is water and its involvement with living organisms.

The seas, which cover approximately 70% of the Earth, absorb so much CO2 and energy from the sun that the chemistry and temperature of the water is endangering many organisms.

In the same way, climate change influences the quality of water for human consumption, making access to this vital resource even more difficult and unbalanced in the world. Moreover, according to different forecasts based on human growth, it is expected that by 2050 the demand for water will have increased by 55%, so rationalizing its consumption becomes increasingly essential. Also taking into account that the world population is expected to reach 9.6 billion people by 2050 from the current 7 billion, according to UN estimates.

Melting ice is another and perhaps one of the most serious consequences of climate change directly related to water. Frozen freshwater in the Arctic, Greenland, Antarctica and all alpine regions of the world is melting and via