Water Resources Management

, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 1449–1462 | Cite as

Impact of Climate Change on Mediterranean Irrigation Demand: Historical Dynamics of Climate and Future Projections

  • I. García-Garizábal
  • J. Causapé
  • R. Abrahao
  • D. Merchan


Global warming is causing important changes in climate conditions, which must be studied in detail and locally in those zones where irrigated agriculture is developed—the major consumer of water worldwide. This study proposes the climatic characterization of a historical series (1971–2000) and its future projections (2011–2099) for an Irrigation District located in the Middle Ebro Valley (Spain), for three different scenarios: low, medium, and high global emission levels of greenhouse gases. Analysis of historical series reveals a significant increase in reference evapotranspiration (3.3 mm/year2; 2.4 ‰) along with a decrease in precipitation (2.5 mm/year2; 5.6 ‰). A comparison was carried out between real historical data and the scenarios produced by the climate models and it was observed that the most adequate climate model to predict climate in the study zone is MPI-ECHAM5. For the XXI century, MPI-ECHAM5 predicts cyclic climate trends but with a general increment in aridity, which intensifies according to the scenario chosen. Changes in climate are affecting agriculture doubly, since evapotranspiration requirements increase at the same time that water resources decrease. These effects are felt especially in irrigated agriculture, since the growing cycles of the main crops coincide with the months most affected by climate change.


Agriculture Evapotranspiration Precipitation Temperature Model Trend 



This work was supported within the framework of Project 2012/GA LC 016 of the Aragon Government and La Caixa, and also by the Geological Survey of Spain (In Spanish: IGME). Thanks are extended to Sergio M. Vicente-Serrano (IPE-CSIC) for facilitating the historical climate data for the study area.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. García-Garizábal
    • 1
  • J. Causapé
    • 1
  • R. Abrahao
    • 2
  • D. Merchan
    • 1
  1. 1.Geological Survey of Spain (IGME)ZaragozaSpain
  2. 2.Center of Alternative and Renewable Energy, Department of Renewable Energy EngineeringFederal University of ParaibaJoão PessoaBrazil

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