Climatic change impacts on the ecohydrology of Mediterranean watersheds

Erol A., Randhir T. O.

CLIMATIC CHANGE, vol.114, no.2, pp.319-341, 2012 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 114 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s10584-012-0406-8
  • Title of Journal : CLIMATIC CHANGE
  • Page Numbers: pp.319-341


Impact of climate change on ecohydrologic processes of Mediterranean watersheds are significant and require quick action toward improving adaptation and management of fragile system. Increase in water shortages and land use can alter the water balance and ecological health of the watershed systems. Intensification of land use, increase in water abstraction, and decline in water quality can be enhanced by changes in temperature and precipitation regimes. Ecohydrologic changes from climatic impacts alter runoff, evapotranspiration, surface storage, and soil moisture that directly affect biota and habitat of the region. This paper reviews expected impacts of climatic change on the ecohydrology of watershed systems of the Mediterranean and identifies adaptation strategies to increase the resilience of the systems. A spatial assessment of changes in temperature and precipitation estimates from a multimodel ensemble is used to identify potential climatic impacts on watershed systems. This is augmented with literature on ecohydrologic impacts in watershed systems of the region. Hydrologic implications are discussed through the lens of geographic distribution and upstream-downstream dynamics in watershed systems. Specific implications of climatic change studied are on runoff, evapotranspiration, soil moisture, lake levels, water quality, habitat, species distribution, biodiversity, and economic status of countries. It is observed that climatic change can have significant impacts on the ecohydrologic processes in the Mediterranean watersheds. Vulnerability varied depending on the geography, landscape characteristics, and human activities in a watershed. Increasing the resilience of watershed systems can be an effective strategy to adapt to climatic impacts. Several strategies are identified that can increase the resilience of the watersheds to climatic and land use change stress. Understanding the ecohydrologic processes is vital to development of effective long-term strategies to improve the resilience of watersheds. There is need for further research into ecohydrologic dynamics at multiple scales, improved resolution of climatic predictions to local scales, and implications of disruptions on regional economies.