November 29th, 2009
The Sierra Nevada is one the most vulnerable sites in Europe to climate change thanks to its position between the Europe and Africa, between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and because of its mountainous nature, with huge changes in habitat in just a few kilometres. The Park’s Observatorio de Cambio Global (above photo) has now been selected by Unesco as one of ten sites in the world for its climate change studies. Temperatures are expected to rise by 2 degrees in the next 40 years with a fall in rainfall if 10%, reducing significantly the amount of snow with serious affects on the ski industry, irrigtation and biodiversity. El País
The Sierra Nevada is one of the most important biodiversity hotspots in Europe. All five of Spain’s bioclimatic zones are present here from Mediterranean up to crioromediterraneo, supporting up to 2,100 plant species of the total of 7,000 recorded for Spain. The fact that the whole of the British Isles only support some 1,900 plants will give you some idea of why botanists get so excited about the place. More
See also (2004)
The unique plant communities of the high Sierra Nevada appear to be under threat from rising temperatures. According to the Andalucian government, a rise of 1.2ºC has been detected in the province of Granada over the last 20 years, which although not much in itself has been enough to endanger 65 endemic plants, most of which are only to be found in the highest altitudes of the range. Like its African and Andean counterparts, the pseudo-alpine habitat, known cumbersomely as crioromediterraneo in Spanish, is extremely sensitive to changing temperatures, and gradually plants are being forced ever higher in search of cold enough conditions. More
January 28th, 2009
Some lovely photos by Maria of Mt Trevenque in the Sierra Nevada covered in snow. Maria notes “It is not linked by ridges to any other peak, has the ideal mountain profile and has one of the best summits in the Sierra Nevada. Oh, if only it were 1000m higher.”
September 6th, 2008
Glaciar de Monteperdido in the Aragonese Pyrenees (El País)
A Spanish study published in The Holocene has concluded that the progressive rise in temperatures since 1890 will lead to the total disappearance of the Pyrenean glaciers by 2050.
Glaciers advanced during the Little Ice Age (LIA) between 1300 and 1860 in the Pyrenees, Picos de Europa and Sierra Nevada. These were most extensive in the Pyrenees (because of altitude and latitude) but today glaciers remain only in the highest peaks. There were six glaciers in the Picos de Europa Massif during the LIA, and one glacier, the southernmost of Europe, in the Sierra Nevada (Pico de Veleta). All of these glaciers have been in continuous retreat since the end of the nineteenth century, 94 have disappeared completely (Veleta in 1913), leaving 29 glaciers in the Pyrenees (10 in Spain, 11 in France), four buried icepatches in the Picos de Europa and one buried icepatch in the Sierra Nevada. The last 15 years has seen a 50-60% reduction in surface area of the largest glaciers.
The Little Ice Age was not a continuous period of cold. These Iberian glaciers expanded most rapidly between 1645 and 1710, and then shrunk between 1750 and the early 19th century but then recovered after a new cold period. Since the end of the 19th century temperatures have risen more sharply by 0.7ºC and 0.9ºC in the mountains in northern Spain in line with global warming. El País
- Climate guide to Spain
- The Little Ice Age in Spain
- Glaciers in Spain (2004) Spanish glaciers melting fast Greenpeace has released a report on the state of Spain’s glaciers. The glaciers on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees are melting fast.. Total surface area has dropped from 1779 hectares in 1894 to 290 in 2000, representing a fall of 85% in of surface area. 52% of this has occurred in the last 20 years, and 30% between 1991 and 2001.