Wave of studies highlights escalating fears over climate risks #Auspol

Middle Eastern drought, ocean acidification and European heatwaves all linked to worsening climate change in flurry of new reports out this weekThe Middle East is facing more than two decades of water shortages, which will intensify the risk of further conflicts in the war-torn region, according to new analysis released this week by the World Resources Institute (WRI).

Fourteen countries in the region, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Palestine, Qatar, Israel, and Oman will be “highly water-stressed” in 2040, the research predicts. The region already relies heavily on groundwater and desalinated sea water, and faces “exceptional water-related challenges for the foreseeable future”, according to the WRI.

The study warns increased levels of water stress could pose a significant threat to the region’s security. The WRI suggests water shortages were likely to have played a role in the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, while some experts maintain the distribution of water is a key factor in the ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel.

The news comes amid a flurry of scientific warnings about the declining state of the planet, putting more pressure on climate negotiators ahead of the next round of Paris talks due to take place in Bonn, Germany next week.

A separate study released this week by the European Commission concluded that a large swathe of central Europe has experienced its worst drought since 2003, in a weather pattern that EU climate experts say is consistent with the expected effects of global warming.

A prolonged drought seared the landscapes of France, Benelux, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, northern Italy and northern Spain during June and July. The countries are on the front line of an extreme weather battleground between continental weather systems that is likely to get worse, according to climate models.

The drought increased the occurrence of forest wildfires, caused sharp falls in crop production and forced governments to impose severe restrictions on domestic and commercial water use, the study found.

In addition, more bad news emerged this week about the state of the world’s oceans. Global sea levels have risen nearly eight centimetres since 1992 due to melting ice caps and warming oceans, according to a panel of NASA scientists. The research indicates the world is on track to experience an average sea level rise of 0.9 metres by the end of the century – the upper bounds of predictions made in 2013 by the United Nations.

Meanwhile, the US government has called for more focus on the impact climate change is having on marine life, following the release of an Australian-led study earlier this week which revealed that thousands of marine species face extinction due to warming waters.

Press link for more: Madeleine Cuff | businessgreen.com

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