In its 2007 report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) identified mountain areas as particularly sensitive to climate change. In this sense, the mountains are veritable “living laboratories”, witnesses, precursors, of climate change that could affect other regions.

The Pyrenees mountain range is particularly representative of typical mountain climate patterns. Among the southernmost ranges of Europe, the Pyrenees is subject to the radical transformations associated with climate change: melting glaciers, decreased snow cover, the retraction of plant species to higher altitudes, phenological variations in plant life, advance of harvest dates, etc.

glaciers aneto maladeta
The glaciers of Aneto and Maladeta have regressed respectively
in 1.2km and 0.7km in 150 years (source: Association Moraine)

From a broader outlook on biodiversity, and beyond climate or environmental changes, rural exodus and the evolution of farming methods in certain areas of the Pyrenees have resulted in the loss of biological, landscape, cultural, and economic diversity. These areas have consequently become even more sensitive to the effects of global change.

The population thus becomes vulnerable, especially because of the following factors:
        • an aging population, located on the borders of the mountain range;
        • residential areas that consume large amounts of energy;
        • artificial ground associated with areas of dense population and tourism;
        • developments in the foothills and overcrowding on the coast;
        • increased traffic in highly urbanised areas;

In general, changes associated with human activities (deforestation, artificial ground and urbanisation, etc.) make certain areas more vulnerable to natural disasters.

Main impacts of climate change by sector

To better understand and anticipate future effects on natural resources and human activities, it is helpful to analyse certain impacts that have already been observed and others that are predicted, along with the consequences facing the population and natural environment. A sectorial approach allows a better understanding of the vulnerability of the territories of the Pyrenees.

    > Le tourisme. Un secteur prioritaire (Tourism, a priority sector)
    > L’agriculture et l’élevage. Entre gestion du risque et opportunité (Agriculture and livestock rearing: between risk management and opportunity)
    > La forêt. Une gestion forestière à adapter (Forest: forest management to be adapted)
    > Gestion de l’eau. Une ressource moins abondante (Water management: a dwindling resource)
    > Ecosystèmes, biodiversité et services écosystémiques. Des impacts variables et incertains (Ecosystems, biodiversity and environmental services: changeable and uncertain impacts)
    > Industrie et énergie. Une vulnérabilité variable, dépendante d’autres facteurs (Industry and energy: a changeable vulnerability, depending on other factors)
    > Aménagement du territoire, urbanisme et transport. Les conséquences d’une évolution des risques naturels (Territorial and urban planning and transport: consequences of the evolution of natural risks)
    > Santé humaine. Les fortes chaleurs et leurs effets comme risque principal (Human health: heat waves and their effects as main risk)

> To learn more about the impacts and vulnerability, download the territorial diagnosis in the “Study on adaptation to climate change in the Pyrenees”  (Chapitres 2. Les manifestations du changement climatique dans les Pyrénées, et 3. Vulnerabilité du territoire aux changements climatiques) from the OPCC-POCTEFA project.
Information in English : Publications OPCC





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