climate change

Articles in ‘climate change’

Disappearance of glaciers in the Pyrenees

February 24th, 2009

Another study has highlighted the likely disappearance of the glaciers in the Pyrenees in the next 40-50 years.

Since the first study by French geographer Franz Schrader in 1894, the Pyrenean glaciers have lost 88 percent of their 1,779-hectare surface area, according to a report by the Spanish Ministry of the Environment. Low rainfall and the rise in temperatures is leading to their rapid melting, and it is estimated that by the middle of the century, they will have vanished altogether. This has accelerated in recent years with the glaciers losing 72 hectares between 2002 and 2008. One of the most striking examples is that of La Madaleta glacier, one of the largest in the Pyrenees, whose thickness has shrunk by 180 metres since 1991 at an average rate of 11 metes a year. The absence of snowfall in summer in recent years has exacerbated this regression. Lower snowfall is also likely to spell long-ter, disaster for the skiing industry.

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Giant waves predicted for Spanish Atlantic

February 6th, 2009

The inhabitants of Spain’s Atlantic and Cantabrian coastline will have to get used to more storms and giant waves as a result of global warming. Two waves of 26.13m and 24.64m hit the coast near Santender on January 22nd, the largest every recorded anywhere along the Spanish coastline Both form part of general tendency detected of ever greater waves.

Climate head attacks Aznar

December 9th, 2008

The top UN climate official Yvo de Boer has attacked former Spanish president and climate-change denialist Jose Maria Aznar, stating during a press conference “I’d say to him: ‘Look out of your window.’ I think that in a few years we could have the Spanish Sahara which he’ll be able to see in person’. (PS I don’t have the original words in English so I’ve re-formulated them)
El Pais

Climate change affecting wine in Spain

October 27th, 2008

Climate change is beginning to affect vineyards in Spain. The start of the grape harvest has moved forward 11 days in the last 20 years. This is increasingly seen as a major threat to the wine industry in Spain and elsewhere. According to the experts, until now the changes to grapes caused by higher temperatures (fruitier flavours, higher acidity and higher concentrations of alcohol) have generally had a positive impact on the taste of wines. But if temperatures keep rising in Spain, wines could soon taste very different, ruining some vintages.

Glaciers to disappear in the Pyrenees by 2050

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

See also

  • 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.

Portuguese man o’war threat in Cantabrian Sea

July 20th, 2008

Portuguese man o'war

Photo by Scott Sonnenberg (wikipedia)

In recent weeks the presence of Portuguese man o’war (Sp. carabela portuguesa- Physalia phisalis) has been detected at various points on the coasts of Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country. Several people have been stung in beaches in Guipúzcoa (Ondarreta and Zarautz) and in Cantabria (Isla) although nobody has yet been seriously injured. Four years ago, the massive presence of the species forced the closure of several beaches in Asturias. Experts believe that the rise in the temperature of the Cantabrian Sea due to climate change has brought the Portuguese man o’war here with warmer waters. The cooler waters of Galicia have so far been free of the threat. El País. The purple Man-o-war is not a true jellyfish, but a colony of hydrozoan polyps. It can in extreme cases provoke a cardiac arrest and death in particularly sensitive persons.

Note the English and Spanish etymology comes from the creature’s air bladder, which looks similar to the triangular sails of the Portuguese ship (man-of-war) Caravela latina (two- or three-masted lateen-rigged ship caravel), of the 15th and 16th centuries. See Wikipedia

See also: Sharks, weaver fish, jellyfish and other dangerous animals in the seas around Spain

+bears-co2

July 12th, 2008

Fapas have started a new campaign with the slogan Más osos menos CO2 (More bears less co2) to give local businesses an opportunity to neutralise their carbon emissions by planting fruit trees. The idea is for any interested companies to (simply) calculate their co2 emissions and Fapas then work out how many trees would need to be planted in bear habitat in the north of Spain. The companies will benefit by being presented with “green” certificates and the bears will profit by having more, for example, chestnut, apple and cherry trees from which to feed.

+bears-co2 campaign

Pyrenean snowfall could drop by 50%

April 22nd, 2008

Spanish scientists from the Pyrenean Ecological Institute have predicted that temperatures in the mountain range in eastern Spain and south-west France could rise by between 2.8C and 4C by the start of the 22nd century. At the same time, snowfall levels could decline by between 30% and 50%. The study also claims that the slopes above 2,000 metres may see snow for only four to five months, whereas today they are covered for up to six months. The report, published in the International Journal of Climatology, also claimed rainfall levels could go down by between 10.7% and 14.8% a year by the end of this century. Researchers said the predictions, which cover the period between 2070 and 2100, were based on possible rises in greenhouse gases. They used six climate models which accurately estimated conditions in the Pyrenees between 1960 and 1990.
Juan Ignacio López-Moreno, a geographer, who led the Spanish High Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) team, said that in the best-case scenario, if emissions were low, by 2100 average temperatures could rise by 2.8C. However, if emissions rose, temperatures would increase by 4C. This would clearly have major implications for the Pyrenees. The Guardian or CSIC report here in Spanish

Climate change issues in Spain

April 9th, 2008

Useful summary on climate change issues in Spain here from Celius. “As far as European countries go, Spain is on the front lines of climate change….Spring is now coming two weeks earlier in Spain, causing 23 more hot days than 30 years ago. This has a tremendous impact on the agricultural cycle in the country, as well as the wildlife. Bears in the northern mountain regions have stopped hibernating and Dung beetles in northern Spain have shifted habitat as temperatures have increased..” Iberianature archive on climate change.

San Glorio ski resort project rejected by law courts

April 2nd, 2008

But great news for the Cantabrian mountains and their wildlife;

Photo of the San Glorio pass and beyond, taken early March 2007

The Castilla and León law courts have vetoed the project put forward by Tres Provincias S.A. for a ski resort in the San Glorio region of the Cantabrian mountains in the north of Spain, citing climate change as the main reason for its very doubtful economic viability. This makes it the first plan to have been denied on the grounds of climate change. The judgement points out that when, in 2006, the regional government of Castilla and León modified the laws protecting the Natural Park of Fuentes Carrionas and Fuente Cobre-Montaña Palentina (land included in much of the project) to enable the building of a ski resort, no scientific study was included to take into account the effects of climate change.

The threats to the environment and the future of the Cantabrian brown bear made by the project have led to huge opposition from conservationists, who have provided many environmental impact reports. The court also recognises that this project would be incompatible with the survival of many species of flora and fauna of the area, including the bears whose Eastern population would be severely affected.

News from El País

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