We use CMIP3 multi-model simulations to show how individual hydroclimatic changes will concur to determine even greater alterations of 21st century Mediterranean water cycle characteristics, with contrasting behavior over land and sea. By 2070-2099, the average of the models predicts a 20% decrease in land surface water availability and a 24% increase in the loss of fresh water over the Mediterranean Sea due to precipitation reduction and warming-enhanced evaporation, with a remarkably high consensus among analyzed models. The projected decrease in river runoff from the surrounding land will further exacerbate the increase in Mediterranean Sea fresh water deficit. 20th century simulations indicate that the 'transition' toward drier conditions has already started to occur and has accelerated around the turn of the century towards the larger rates projected for the 21st century. These tendencies are supported by observational evidence of century-long negative trends in regionally averaged precipitation, PDSI and discharge from numerous rivers; and are consistent with reported increases in Mediterranean sea water salinity.
- Mediterranean water cycle
- climate change