The Mediterranean basin and the Alps could be the most affected by climate change brought about by global warming in the 21st century, according to scientific research published Friday in Science magazine.
Sixteen research groups in Europe have designed the most detailed computer model on the environmental and human impact of rising temperatures in western Europe between now and 2080.
"Among all European regions, the Mediterranean appeared most vulnerable to global change," with rising temperatures and reduced precipitation, the researchers said.
"The impacts included water shortages, increased risk of forest fires, northward shifts in the distribution of typical tree species, and losses of agricultural potential," they added.
According to this scenario, from 14 percent to 28 percent of the population on the Mediterranean "would be living in watersheds with increased water stress," the researchers said.
"In this region, water scarcity would likely be aggravated by higher extractions per capita for irrigation and tourism," they added.
The warming trend will also shrink the snow cover in the Alps.
Computer models indicated an elevation of "reliable snow cover from about 1,300 meters (4,250 feet) to 1,500-1,750 meters (4,900-5,600 feet) in the coming decades.
"A 300 meter (1,000-foot) rise of the snow line would reduce the proportion of Swiss ski areas with sufficient snow from currently about 85 percent to 63 percent," the researchers said.
The research extended to 15 European Union members, plus Norway and Switzerland and projected average temperature increases in Europe from now until 2080 of 2.1 to 4.4 degrees Celsius (3.8-7.9 degrees Fahrenheit).
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