Friday, March 6 2020 16:35
Karina Manukyan

Armenia is a vulnerable territory in terms of climate change

Armenia is a vulnerable territory in terms of climate change

ArmInfo. According to the climate change scenario, taking into account continuing emissions, by 2100 the average global temperature will increase by 2.9-3.4 + C compared with the pre-industrial era. According to the World Meteorological  Organization, heat waves, which became the deadliest meteorological  phenomena in 2015-2019, affected all continents and led to many new  temperature records.

Between 2015 and 2019 in the world, there has been a steady increase  in levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other major greenhouse gases in  the atmosphere to new record levels. At the same time, the growth  rate of CO2 levels is almost 20% higher than the growth rate in the  previous five years. According to expert estimates, for the period  2030-2050 (compared with 1980-1999), the temperature in the South  Caucasus will likely to increase by 1-2 + ‘. EcoLur NGO coordinator  Victoria Burnazyan notes that Armenia is a vulnerable territory in  terms of climate change.

On the one hand, Armenia's influence on the global climate system is  insignificant: the country's share in global carbon dioxide emissions  is only 0.014%. Meanwhile, the temperature increase in the republic  exceeds the global average (1.1 + C), amounting to 1.23 + C from 1929  to 2016. From 1935 to 2016 Armenia recorded a decrease in average  annual precipitation by 9%, and in 1975-2016 the number of dangerous  hydrometeorological phenomena (drought, frost, hail, and so on)  increased by 20%, compared with 1961-1990.

Experts note: land degradation is one of the worst consequences of  climate change. 77.4% of the territory of Armenia is at risk of  desertification and only 22.6% of the territory is not affected by  this process. In 1990-2010 carbon stocks accumulated in the biomass  of forests in Armenia decreased from 17 million tons to 13 million  tons. This means that during this period a large mass of forest was  cut down. According to some reports, forest areas in Armenia  decreased from 11.2% to 7-10%. In terms of climate change, the  optimal forest area for Armenia is 20.1%. Thus, it is necessary to  additionally plant 270 thousand ha of forest, and optimally - 600  thousand ha.  According to the forecasts of the Third National  Communication of Armenia on climate change, by 2030 the river flow in  the republic will decrease by 11.9%, by 2070 - by 24%, and by 2100 -  by 37.8%. By 2030, agro-climatic zones will shift by 100 m, and by  2100, by 200-400 m. Yields are also expected to decrease as a result  of higher temperatures, less rainfall and more evaporation from the  soil surface. There will also be a need for additional irrigation  water, which will be about 202 million cubic meters. According to  expert estimates, a decrease in productivity and degradation of  agricultural land is expected; areas of alpine and subalpine pasture  lands will decrease by 19 and 22%, respectively, semi-desert and  meadow-steppe - by 17%.

Due to climatic changes, forest ecosystems will suffer due to fires,  diseases and the mass reproduction of pests, which may lead to the  death of Armenian forests on a scale of 14 thousand to 17 thousand  hectares by 2030.

The situation in other countries of the region

According to expert estimates, by 2100 in Western Georgia the average  annual temperature will increase by 1.8 + C-5.2 + C, and in Eastern  Georgia by 3.5-4.9 + C. Climate change in Georgia can lead to a sharp  reduction in the number of frosty days and an earlier onset of the  growing season. Speaking about the current situation in the country,  the Georgian environmental expert Medea Inashvili notes that changes  in precipitation and their volumes are insignificant, but the picture  as a whole has changed: there are long torrential rains and droughts,  soil erosion, and forest degradation. Basically, climate change  affected the Black Sea, where there is an increase in sea level. Due  to climatic changes, floods and floods are observed in Western  Georgia, and an increase in river levels in Eastern Georgia, which  makes this region vulnerable to floods. In addition, snowless winters  negatively affect agriculture. Thus, a reduction in agricultural  productivity is another negative factor in climate change.

UNDP's regional assessment forecasts a 5-23% reduction in the number  of Azerbaijan by the end of the century. Environmental expert from  Azerbaijan Namik Rzayev draws attention to the fact that over the  past 20 years, the average annual temperature in the country has  increased by 0.4-0.9 degrees. In Azerbaijan, the total number of  climate refugees amounted to about 200 thousand people. In addition,  since 1963, the number of glaciers has almost halved due to climate  change and the intensification of melting processes.

In summer, extremely hot weather can be observed in Azerbaijan, and  the so-called "heat islands" have become the norm in Baku and other  large cities, which exacerbates the problem. The consequences of  climate change in Azerbaijan: increased risk of natural disasters  (floods, landslide processes, etc.), reduced yields, rising sea  levels and salinization of coastal areas, lack of drinking water,  extreme heat. Winter pasture productivity will improve, but their  territories will decrease due to soil erosion. The expected climate  change has a potential impact on human health, including due to  changes in living conditions.  The main problem is the absence in  Azerbaijan of laws on combating climate change in environmental  legislation, as well as the lag in the development of programs and  action plans to mitigate the effects of climate change, and to adapt  to them.  The material was prepared based on the workshop "Needs and  Opportunities for Adaptation to Climate Change in the South  Caucasus", held in Tbilisi on February 27. 

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