01/10/2012 05:01

Environmental Protection Ministry climate change report predicts country will see decrease in rainfall, increases in temperature.
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An Environmental Protection Ministry climate change report predicts that over the next decade, the country will see an annual decrease in rainfall, and increases in temperature, southern desertification, heat waves, periods of torrential rains and flooding.

“Global climate change is already here – that’s a fact,” Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan said in a statement released by his office. “We are all experiencing the manifestation of diminishing precipitation, heat waves, floods and more.”

The Environmental Protection Ministry has issued its report as part of the ministry’s efforts to advance a national action plan toward adapting to climate – a plan that will be governed by a committee under the leadership of the ministry’s director-general.

Ministry Chief Scientist Dr. Sinai Netanyahu assembled the report, based on research findings at the ministry’s newly established Israel Climate Change Information Center, inaugurated at Haifa University in March.

The report is divided into seven categories that the researchers expected would have great impact on the country in the near future – climate, public health, water management, green building, biodiversity, economics and geo-strategy.

Among the major conclusions of the report are an expected temperature rise of between 0.3 to 0.5 degrees Celsius per decade, as well as decreased precipitation levels of between 1.1 and 3.7 percent in that same period.

In addition to rampant desertification of the country’s southern lands, Israel will also likely experience periods of extreme weather – from intense heat waves to torrential rains and floods, according to the report.

With both increased dry spells and floods, the country will also probably face increased property damage and a higher frequency of forest fires. The effects of climate change on biodiversity are uncertain, the report finds, but may cause a shift in bird migration to earlier dates.

Due to both climate change an expected increase in immigration to Israel, the report also predicts an increased struggle to protect water resources, and changing sea levels will surely have an impact on civilian and military coastal installations.

“~These phenomena are not expected to slow their pace soon, but on the contrary,” Erdan said. “Therefore, we are committed to taking part in the global effort that will lead to changes in behavioral patterns that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation to a way of life that will reduce environmental impact and will be less susceptible to the damages that are a result of climate changes.”