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Consequences of Climate Change: Future Spain Could Turn Into a Desert as Global Warming Continues

Oct 27, 2016 10:31 PM EDT

Warning! A new study reveals that much of the Mediterranean region, including Spain, could dry up and its forests could be replaced with deserts as global warming continues.

According to the study published in the journal Science, the city of Seville in Spain and Lisbon in Portugal, which currently have temperate climate,would be smack in the middle of a desert by the end of the century.

The researchers came up with this result by analyzing historical data of the Mediterranean region in the past 10,000 years and computer models based on the agreed targets from The Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming by 2 degrees Celsius or 1.5 degrees Celsius, Bloomberg reports. The researchers also used pollen records to determine how future temperatures will affect plant life in the region.

"That doesn't seem much to people, but we wanted to see what the difference would be on a sensitive region like the Mediterranean," said Joel Guiot, one of the study's authors told Nature.

Results showed that there will be four possible cases that may happen to the Mediterranean depending on the concentration of greenhouse gases. Researchers found out that if temperature increased by 2 degrees Celsius, Spain, North Africa and the Near East would have drastic changes, such as expanding deserts and coasts (which could even go up to the mountains).

“Everything is moving in parallel. Shrubby vegetation will move into the deciduous forests, while the forests move to higher elevation in the mountains,” Guiot reveals.

Patrick Gonzalez, principal climate-change scientist at the US National Park Service, notes that the study shows "the vulnerability of many ecosystems" and paves a way for policymakers to help these ecosystems adapt to the rapid climate change.

However, the climate models simulated only considered natural vegetation and temperature, but Guiot says that this would still worsen if human activity is included. He said, “If we had the possibility of including these human impacts, it would be even worse than what we simulated."

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