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Water 2016, 8(11), 483; doi:10.3390/w8110483

Implications of Human Activities, Land Use Changes and Climate Variability in Mediterranean Lakes of Greece

1
Department of Biology, School of Natural Sciences, University of Patras University Campus Rio, GR 26500 Patras, Greece
2
Department of Water Resources and Environmental Engineering, School of Civil Engineering, National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), 5, Iroon Politechniou Street, 15780 Zografou, Athens, Greece
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Erik Jeppesen, Martin Søndergaard and Wayne O’Connor
Received: 29 June 2016 / Revised: 5 October 2016 / Accepted: 19 October 2016 / Published: 26 October 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Lake Restoration and Management in a Climate Change Perspective)
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Abstract

Lakes in the Mediterranean climate zone experience high variation in rainfall and are vulnerable to changes in climate, land cover and anthropogenically induced effects on water level and salinity. This paper presents the results from the analyses of spatiotemporal changes of land cover/uses at catchment scale of two connected lakes in Greece that have recently exhibited a dramatic loss of water volume, and investigates the potential role of climate change as a main driver of the lake water loss. The classification of the historical land cover/uses was based on a series of LANDSAT images from 1972 to 2011. Changes in the landscape structure were assessed using landscape metrics that were calculated with FRAGSTATS software. Climate data and temporal series of water level, conductivity and chloride concentration, were analyzed to investigate the potential role of climate variability to the lake hydrology and water quality. The results showed that between 1972 and 2011 almost 28% of Lake Vegoritis and 13% of Lake Petron were replaced by cultivations and reed beds. Landscape metrics showed that the lake catchment’s area is highly fragmented, indicating a heterogeneous spatial pattern and degradation of the rural habitats. Regarding the climatic factors, it appears that precipitation follows a declining trend correlating with water level fluctuations. The water level in Lake Vegoritis also correlated with the conductivity and chloride concentration, indicating a relationship between hydrological alteration and water quality. Overall, a combined effect of climate- and human-induced land cover changes appeared to be responsible for the drastic environmental changes that urge the need for implementing effective restoration and mitigation measures. View Full-Text
Keywords: water level fluctuations; land cover/use changes; landscape metrics; climate variability; mediterranean region water level fluctuations; land cover/use changes; landscape metrics; climate variability; mediterranean region
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Stefanidis, K.; Kostara, A.; Papastergiadou, E. Implications of Human Activities, Land Use Changes and Climate Variability in Mediterranean Lakes of Greece. Water 2016, 8, 483.

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