Drought is “desertifying” six square kilometres of land in the Islands every year

  • Canarian Weekly
  • 08-03-2024
  • National
  • Photo Credit: C7
Drought is “desertifying” six square kilometres of land in the Islands every year

The AEMET delegate in the Canary Islands, David Suárez, warns that the percentage of Canarian land changing from temperate to desert conditions is "increasing by 6 square kilometres every year." According to technical reports, he emphasises that forecasts "for the subtropical region, including the Canaries and Morocco, indicate a 7% decrease in precipitation and an average temperature rise of 1.5 to 2 degrees, a projection extending until the year 2050."

Suárez has no doubts that the Canary Islands are currently experiencing the warmest winter on record. "Considering the characteristics of December, January, and February, we will conclude that we've had the warmest and driest winter in the Islands, with rainfall below a third of the average, predominant high temperatures, and the influx of suspended sand and dust particles causing the calima. There was some weak to moderate rainfall from the last Atlantic front, but it wasn’t enough to change this trend of an extremely dry winter."

Regarding short-term forecasts, Suárez said that "the current monthly forecast suggests the region may experience above-average rainfall and temperatures, similar to the next quarter, with some precipitation but warmer than usual."

Additionally, he confirms that since February 16th, there has been no snowfall in the Canary Islands, and it is not expected to occur before the next winter. The only notable precipitation event was the DANA that brought rain on December 22nd and 23rd.

Weather radar in Erjos

One of the most awaited projects for meteorologists in the Canary Islands is the new radar in the Cruz de Gala mountain in Tenerife (Teno massif), set to be completed by the end of the year or early 2025.

Suarez confirmed that "the civil work is already under construction, and once the tower, which comes complete from the mainland, is finished, the weather radar will be installed to cover the entire western Canary Islands."

The project, on hold since 2018, has a budget of three million euros. This installation is crucial to eliminate shadow areas hindering observation of Tenerife, La Palma, and El Hierro due to the barrier posed by Teide.

Drought is “desertifying” six square kilometres of land in the Islands every year

“10% of the Coastal Population will have to Relocate Inland"

"The 10% of the population in the Canaries residing on the coast will have to relocate inland," warned José Antonio Valbuena, former Minister of Ecological Transition of the Government of the Canary Islands, in statements to Onda Tenerife. He explained that "sea level rise will force us to vacate a significant part of our coast, a problem we have to face sooner rather than later."

Valbuena mentioned the previous attempt by the Canarian government to purchase, for 25 million euros, the plot where the Viqueira group is constructing a hotel complex with 883 beds. "We have to invest in the recovery of our natural spaces and environments to defend the most precious thing we have in the Canary Islands, our nature, although these proceedings are now under a government that does not share the same environmental sensitivity as the previous one," he said.

Regarding the water emergency declared in Tenerife, Valbuena recalled the portable desalination plants in La Palma: "We were criticised for it, and now they ask for their return. With the demographic challenge, resource consumption, and drought, the Canary Islands are inevitably heading towards dependence on desalination, especially now when all predictions regarding the water emergency fall short."