Dryland Dynamics in the Mediterranean Region

Zeng, H., B. Wu, A. Elnashar, and Z. Fu, "Dryland Dynamics in the Mediterranean Region", Dryland Social-Ecological Systems in Changing Environments: Springer, 2024.


Mediterranean drylands are rich in biodiversity and play an important role in global ecosystem sustainable management. This study summarizes the characteristics, dynamic change, and change drivers of Mediterranean drylands. The drylands showed strong spatial heterogeneity, hyperarid and arid regions were dominant in North Africa and West Asia, and semiarid and dry subhumid regions were widely distributed in European countries. Mediterranean dryland is experiencing a warming trend that would become stronger under representative concentration pathways (RCP) 4.5 and 8.5, which would increase the risk of land degradation and desertification. Arid North Africa and West Asia faced rapid population growth that put considerable pressure on food supply and water consumption. The conflicts among land, water, food, and the ecosystem intensified under the warming trend. The significant expansion of cropland and urbanization was widely observed in arid areas, such as Egypt, while the rotation of land reclamation, degradation, abandonment, and reclamation was observed in arid areas and caused large-scale cross-border migration. The Mediterranean region had low food self-sufficiency due to a booming population, and the crop structure of cash crops was dominant. The expansion of cropland also significantly increased the water consumption in the arid area of the Mediterranean region, and water consumption increased by 684.54 × 106 m3 from 2000 to 2020 in Egypt. More robust models and fine spatial resolution data should be developed for the sustainable development of Mediterranean drylands.

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