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Changes of Global Radiation with Respect to Global Warming in the Mediterranean Region

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Global radiation is determined by astronomical factors (e.g. solar declination, the length of day and night) and by actual conditions in the atmosphere (including cloudiness, aerosols and water vapour). Of these factors, cloudiness is the most active component in the solar radiation flux of the earth-atmosphere system (Salby, 1996:39), reflecting about one half of incoming solar radiation into space, thus reducing the energy-balance of the surface. Clouds also modify Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) by absorption and by emission on lower temperature. Hence, in a way, OLR is a cloud-indicator as well. In sum, clouds represent a negative component of the energy budget of the planet (Harrison et al., 1990).

The present study intends to estimate how global radiation may change, parallel to the global warming. This aim is realised in a three-step combination methodology (Section 2) of regression estimations. Satellitebased data for global radiation and for OLR are used (Section 3) besides ground-based visual cloud estimates. Statistical relationships between global radiation and cloud indicators (Section 4.1) are established, in combination with another kind of regression, between cloud indicators and hemispherical temperature (Section 4.2). Finally, the combination of these regression coefficients leads to a point-wise estimation of the expected change in global radiation scaled for a 0.5 K northern hemispherical warming. This empirical methodology is generally recommended for regional scale estimation of changes in solar energy, mostly because cloud parameterisation is one of the most uncertain components in global and regional climate models (IPCC, 2001).

The targeted area of this study represents the southern part of Europe, the Mediterranean region situated between 340N and 460N latitude and 200E and 300E longitude (Fig.10-1).

The Statistical Model: Let us have an environmental variable, W, which is an indirect function of variable X through the intermediate variable Y: W{Y(X)}. For a simplified example, biomass of a plant, W, depends on the water content of the same plant, Y, which, in turn, depends on soil moisture content, X.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2008

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  • Natural Environment and Culture in the Mediterranean Region
    The Mediterranean Basin is located at the intersection of two major landmasses, Eurasia and Africa, which contributes to its cultural and high biodiversity. The greatest impacts have been deforestation, habitat fragmentation, intensive grazing and fires, and infrastructure development, especially on the coast, which have distinctly altered the landscape. In view of the valuable natural heritage there is a great need for weighing our ecological impact in order to achieve a balance between biodiversity conservation and human development and above all, how to maintain traditional rural livelihoods in a way that benefits biodiversity. This book synthesizes knowledge from many disciplines to throw some light on the unpredictability of forthcoming changes.
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