The Aegean islands, characterized by strong relief and low vegetation cover, are listed as a region of high desertification risk. Impacts of climate change are expected to affect significantly agricultural production and the local economy. In this paper, projections derived from seven regional climate models (RCMs) are used to examine future climate changes in the Aegean area to identify areas most vulnerable to climate change and to prioritize future interventions in the agricultural sector. Changes in climate indices, derived from the mean ensemble of the seven RCMs, are examined under the medium mitigation (RCP4.5) and the high emission scenario (RCP8.5) for the control (1971–2000), near (2031–2060) and distant (2071–2100) future periods. Ensemble results are calibrated against the long-term historical meteorological record of Naxos Island in the central Cyclades. Annual averaged maximum and minimum temperatures show increases of about 1.5 °C (RCP4.5) or 2.1 °C (RCP8.5) in the near future and almost 2.2 °C (RCP4.5) or 4.5 °C (RCP8.5) in the distant future across the Aegean. Hot days and very hot days (days with Tmax > 30 °C and Tmax > 35 °C, respectively) which negatively affect plant growth are projected to increase considerably, especially in the distant future. Hot days will be more frequent by 30–60 days/year (RCP4.5–RCP8.5), and very hot days by about 10–30 days/year (RCP4.5–RCP8.5) across the Aegean for the period 2071–2100. Total annual precipitation decreases significantly throughout the Aegean islands in the distant future, by 15–25%, while increases in the maximum length of dry spells are projected. Under both RCP scenarios they will last about 100 days, which is 20 days more than in the reference period. Results of this study feed into recommendations for adaptation measures that are to be integrated into agricultural policy which is formulated by the TERRACESCAPE project.
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The authors gratefully acknowledge funding from the European Commission detailed below. The authors wish also to express their thanks to the National Meteorological Service of Greece and the National Observatory of Athens, for providing the meteorological observations.
The funding source of this study is the European Commission under the LIFE and Climate Change Adaptation programme through the LIFE TERRACESCAPE project (LIFE16 CCA/GR/000050) titled “Employing land stewardship to transform terraced landscapes into green infrastructures to better adapt to climate change”.
Conflict of interest
On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.
Communicated by Elena Xoplaki, Chief Editor.
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Kitsara, G., van der Schriek, T., Varotsos, K.V. et al. Future changes in climate indices relevant to agriculture in the Aegean islands (Greece). Euro-Mediterr J Environ Integr 6, 34 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41207-020-00233-4
- Regional climate models
- Ensemble mean
- Future climate change