The Paris Agreement of December 2015 aims to maintain the global average warming well below 2°C above the preindustrial level. Ecosystem variability during the past 10,000 years was reconstructed from pollen analysis. Only a 1.5°C warming scenario permits Mediterranean land ecosystems to remain within this Holocene variability. At or above 2°C of warming, climatic change will generate land ecosystem changes that are unmatched in the Holocene (2).
In fact, regional temperatures in the Mediterranean basin are now ~1.3°C higher than during 1880-1920, compared with an increase of ~0.85°C worldwide. Climate model projections indicate that the projected warming in the Mediterranean basin this century continues to exceed the global trend. Without ambitious mitigation policies anthropogenic climate change will likely alter ecosystems in the Mediterranean this century in a way that is without precedent during the past 10,000 years. The highly ambitious low-end scenario of climate change (the so-called RCP2.6 scenario) seems to be the only possible pathway toward more limited impacts. Under a high-end scenario of climate change (the RCP8.5 scenario), all of southern Spain turns into desert, deciduous forests invade most of the mountains, and Mediterranean vegetation replaces most of the deciduous forests in a large part of the Mediterranean basin (2).
In addition to climate change, other human impacts affect ecosystems, such as land-use change, urbanization, and soil degradation. Many of these effects are likely to become even stronger in the future because of the expanding human population and economic activity. Without ambitious climate targets, the potential for future managed or unmanaged ecosystems to host biodiversity or deliver services to society is likely to be greatly reduced by climate change and direct local effects (2).
The alpine zone is the most vulnerable to climate change due to the most intensive air temperature rise in alpine and subalpine regions, according to the local climate scenarios. Loss of the alpine belt can be expected; for example Mt. Pelister is expected to have lost its alpine belt within 50 years. Alpine grasslands, rocky habitats, scree, and rock vegetation are distributed only on the highest parts of mountain summits and occupy very small areas (only 0.5% of the country territory). Vertical movement of these communities will be hindered by many relief-related obstacles, ecological preferences, and especially available space. Only north-facing slopes would offer suitable ecological conditions since the alpine zone in Macedonian mountains will disappear (1).
The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Macedonia.
- Republic of Macedonia, Ministry of Environment and Physical planning (2008)
- Guiot and Cramer (2016)