The Mediterranean is faced with increasing dryness, Professor Lelieveld tells CNA

Heat extremes and water shortage are the specific difficulties related to the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern climate change,

Professor Jos Lelieveld, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany and Professor of atmospheric chemistry at the Cyprus Institute has told CNA.

The Professor spoke to the Cyprus News Agency on the occasion of the International Summit-Conference that will take place in Nicosia in mid-May and which will address the scientific basis of Climate Change in the region, its impact and challenges.

Asked about the situation of the climate in the region today and where are the main problems, he said that heat extremes and water shortage are the specific difficulties related to the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern climate change.

“These aspects affect water and food security, the spreading of diseases, human habitability, and potentially migration. Measurement data and computer model results confirm that temperatures are increasing particularly rapidly in summer, a time of year when the region already faces hot and dry weather conditions,” he said.

While climate change typically leads to more rainfall in most of the world, the Mediterranean is faced with increasing dryness, he stressed.

Replying to a question on the use of chemical weapons in the region, he said that the use of chemicals is an act against humanity, adding that the Cyprus Institute, together with other national organizations, would be in a good position to monitor the spreading of noxious chemicals and radioactivity, building on existing infrastructure to measure air pollution.

“This could support early warning systems and provide scientific evidence for hazardous exposure to toxic spills in the region” he told CNA.

He pointed out that the Middle East suffers from political instabilities that can lead to armed conflict, adding that perhaps Cyprus can help provide an international and secure environment to contemplate and monitor developments in the Middle East, under the EU umbrella.

The Professor also said that it has been shown that extended droughts in Syria contributed to crop failure and societal unrest, ultimately leading to civil war.

As regards the Conference in Nicosia, he said that it will help define the problems that must be addressed through national and EU policies, and contribute to climate change resilience in the region.

In addition, he said that local solutions can help people to cope with changing weather conditions, air pollution and desert dust, and adapt to climate change.

For example, the Professor said that the use of solar energy coupled to sea water desalination, and the development of advanced agricultural practices can contribute to resilience.

This, he went on to say, will not only help finding solutions to important problems, but also create opportunities for Mediterranean and Middle Eastern societies.

He added that the conference offers high-level presentations by leaders of science and society, who will address the challenges related to climate change in the Mediterranean and the Middle East region.

“There are major challenges indeed, as the region is a climate change hotspot. The conference will debate problems related to the climate crisis, and at the same time also provide mitigation options and propose solutions for adaptation. The discussions will have a regional focus, approached from a global perspective by involving international speakers and participants”, he concluded.

On the 18th and 19th of May 2018, the Cyprus Institute will host the International Conference Climate Change in the Mediterranean and the Middle East: Challenges and Solutions, which will take place at the Filoxenia Conference Centre. The meeting is organised under the aegis of the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, with the support of the Representation of the European Commission in Cyprus. CNA is the media sponsor of the event.

Source: Cyprus News Agency