Climate change in Spain

Through a study, an attempt has been made to collect information about the effects of climate change in Spain. These changes are related to climatology, biodiversity and ecosystems and the agricultural sector. The recorded changes cannot be fully attributed to the change as there are indirect components that may have contributed to these changes.


According to data recorded by Spanish meteorological stations, the temperature has gradually increased during the 20th century. Between 1805 and 2005 the temperature increased between 1 and 2º C. This temperature record has increased sharply since 1975, with a growth rate of 0.5º C per decade. This percentage is triple the global average (it seems a very high value, however we are considering a large number of underdeveloped countries whose impact on climate change is minimal or null).

Within the gradual increase in temperature, the most affected areas are the Mediterranean, from Girona to Malaga. A rise in average temperatures has been verified in 36 out of 38 observatories analyzed.

In the case of the Canary Islands, the change in temperature is less than in the peninsula, with an increase of between 0.04 and 0.09º C / decade since 1944. This is due to the insular conditions of the area.


In the case of the study of the evolution of rainfall in Spain, there are no clear examples of the effects of climate change. The northern areas, there is a gradual increase in temperatures, in the central area a constant trend of rainfall, and a progressive decrease in the south and southeast.

Overall, the evolution of precipitation has decreased counting from the last 3 decades, but the change is not as evident as that of temperature.


After the upward evolution of temperature, a change in the composition of plant nuclei has been observed, with a tendency to decrease in surface area of ​​species adapted to cold, in favor of more thermophilic species. In the case of the Spanish Central System, the value of the area occupied by alpine species adapted to snowy environments has decreased, being replaced by shrubby legume species. In summary, a substitution of high mountain species for medium mountain species, causing an important alteration in diversity.


A study has been carried out at the European level, including between 9,500 bird communities and more than 2,000 butterflies. This study reflects a displacement to the north (colder areas) of 37 kilometers in the case of birds and 114 kilometers for butterflies.

A clear example of climate change alteration is reflected through the Trumpeter Bullfinch ( Bucanetes githagineus) . An increase in the populations of this bird has been observed. Curiously, the habitat of this animal corresponded to arid, desert or semi-desert climates, consolidating itself in areas such as Murcia, Alicante or Almería.


In the case of the long-tailed lizard ( Psammodromus algirus)  an increase in altitude has been recorded in its habitat, due to the search for areas with lower average temperatures.

Another record, for the bastard snake ( Malpolon monspessulanus) , showed an increase in its activity, being a North African species, settling in the area of ​​southeastern Spain.


The freshwater algae ( Tetrasporidium javanicum) , settled in tropical areas, an indicator species of turbid waters and high temperatures, has increased in the Iberian Peninsula since 2005.


It has been observed a lengthening of the growth phase of the trees and an advancement of the foliation, flowering and fruiting. 29 species, 6 phenological events and 200,000 records have been studied. The flowering season has advanced, in addition to an advance in the ripening of the fruits in the south of Spain for some species (vine, olive, oak, holm oak and some herbaceous). The event registers an advance of 6-7 days per degree of temperature increase.


From the data recorded dated 1950, an increase in surface temperature between 0 and 0.5º C has been recorded to date. In the Cantabrian Sea, a temperature increase of 0.25 and 0.35º has been observed. C / decade. In the case of the Mediterranean, in addition to the rise in temperature, an increase in the salinity of the sea has been observed.

Sea level  has risen since 1961 by a value of between 1.3 and 2.3 mm / year, with large regional differences. In the case of the Mediterranean, the values ​​are much higher and are between 2.4 and 8.7 mm / year.


At the beginning of the 20th century, glaciers in Spain occupied around 3,300 ha, the current value being 390 ha. A reduction of 90%. The increase in the retreat of the glacier surface dates back to 1980.

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