Actual state of European wetlands and their possible future in the context of global climate change
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- Čížková, H., Květ, J., Comín, F.A. et al. Aquat Sci (2013) 75: 3. doi:10.1007/s00027-011-0233-4
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The present area of European wetlands is only a fraction of their area before the start of large-scale human colonization of Europe. Many European wetlands have been exploited and managed for various purposes. Large wetland areas have been drained and reclaimed mainly for agriculture and establishment of human settlements. These threats to European wetlands persist. The main responses of European wetlands to ongoing climate change will vary according to wetland type and geographical location. Sea level rise will probably be the decisive factor affecting coastal wetlands, especially along the Atlantic coast. In the boreal part of Europe, increased temperatures will probably lead to increased annual evapotranspiration and lower organic matter accumulation in soil. The role of vast boreal wetlands as carbon sinks may thus be suppressed. In central and western Europe, the risk of floods may support the political will for ecosystem-unfriendly flood defence measures, which may threaten the hydrology of existing wetlands. Southern Europe will probably suffer most from water shortage, which may strengthen the competition for water resources between agriculture, industry and settlements on the one hand and nature conservancy, including wetland conservation, on the other.